By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
General manager Don Sweeney and the Boston Bruins were in it until the very end, but free agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk is taking his talents out West on a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings.
KHL's leading scorer and 2018 Olympic MVP Ilya Kovalchuk will join the LA Kings for the 2018-19 season after agreeing to terms on a 3-year contract.https://t.co/xp15gyuKBu
— LA Kings (@LAKings) June 23, 2018
One of the most sought after free agents in recent years, Kovalchuk returns to the NHL, where he recorded 417 goals and 816 points in 816 games between the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils from 2001 to 2013. 'Retiring' from the NHL in 2013, the 6-foot-3 Kovalchuk spent the last five seasons in the KHL, with 120 goals and 285 points in 262 games.
The contract will come a $6.25 million yearly cap hit, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman. That in fact exactly matches Kovalchuk's desire to get a contract similar to the one Patrick Marleau signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer.
As their 'Plan A,' the B's were always willing to pay Kovalchuk similar money. But as a team hyperaware of their cap situation and veteran commitments already on the books, they were never going to offer the 35-year-old Kovalchuk three years, according to an NHL source. And that refusal to go to a third year has left Sweeney and Co. to go back to the drawing board.
It's expected that the Bruins will now turn their attention towards re-signing Rick Nash.
The 34-year-old Nash, acquired from the New York Rangers before the trade deadline, had three goals and six points in 11 regular-season games with the Bruins. Nash, whose regular season ended with a concussion suffered in a Mar. 17 head-to-head against the Tampa Bay Lightning, contributed three goals on 39 shots and totaled five points in 12 playoff games.
The Bruins have $11.9 million in available cap space.
Ty Anderson is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.