Count Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy among those that would be in on adding Ilya Kovalchuk to the mix.
Speaking with the media before the 2018 NHL Awards in Las Vegas, Cassidy, who is up for the Jack Adams Award as the league's top coach, was asked about the potential of the Bruins signing the 35-year-old Kovalchuk for 2018-19.
“Yeah, that would be interesting . . . you never want to speculate,” Cassidy said (via The Boston Globe). “You can’t get too far ahead . . . he’s a top-six guy, he can play left and right wing, he’s a big body. He’d be a nice addition. I am sure any team would say that right now. He’s going to make your team better, and I think that’s what you always look at as a coach, and fitting [talented players] in is the easy part. The tough part is getting those types of players.”
There's no doubt that Kovalchuk would provide an immediate boost to Boston's top two lines, whether it was on the left or right side, and with either Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci feeding him the puck. Having Kovalchuk, who scored over 400 goals in his first NHL run from 2001 to 2012, would also likely give the Black and Gold a more skilled option than the one Cassidy had with Rick Nash added to the fold prior to the trade deadline this past season.
It would also allow Cassidy, entering his second full season behind the Boston bench, to potentially break up the Brad Marchand-Bergeron-David Pastrnak line without devastating the effectiveness of the B's top line.
“He’s always been an amazing player with amazing skill — his shot is crazy," Bergeron said of Kovalchuk. "So, yeah, it would be great to be able to add a guy like him with his talent and his skill set.
"We’ll see what happens out of it, but [Kovalchuk] definitely would be a great addition."
With 120 goals and 285 points in 262 games with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL during his five-year 'retirement' from the National Hockey League, Kovalchuk has hit the open market as one of the top prizes of the 2018 free agent class.