- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2020

New Washington Capitals forward Ilya Kovalchuk is en route to the District on Monday, but first he spoke to reporters in Montreal the morning after the Canadiens traded him to Washington.

Kovalchuk’s agent told a Russian sports outlet that the Canadiens gave Kovalchuk a choice to be traded to either the Capitals and the Boston Bruins, two of the best teams in the NHL. Kovalchuk himself disputed the idea that it was those two teams, but affirmed his excitement to join the Capitals.

The chance to win a Stanley Cup “is the main factor,” he said.

“Like I said from Day 1 when I came back to the NHL, it’s my dream,” Kovalchuk told reporters in Montreal. “Hopefully, you know? You never know but you just need to work hard.”

The Capitals sent Montreal a 2020 third-round draft pick, and the Canadiens retain 50% of Kovalchuk’s salary.

Kovalchuk, the first overall draft pick in 2001, spent most of his NHL career between the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils before opting to play in Russia’s KHL for five years. He’s friends with Alex Ovechkin, with whom he’s played on the Russian national team, and he used to be an Ovechkin-esque goal-scorer in his own right.

One thing missing from his career resume: a Stanley Cup. 

“I feel like I can help [the Capitals],” Kovalchuk said. “They’re already good everywhere but it’s a great opportunity. I know a lot of guys there, I played against and with, national teams and other teams, it’s exciting for me. Obviously looking to go all the way, hopefully we’ll do some damage in the playoffs.”

Kovalchuk said he spoke on the phone with Ovechkin “a lot last night” after the trade was announced, and the two even spent time together over the Christmas break from the NHL schedule.

“We’re both very excited, it’s the first time we’ll play for the same [NHL] team,” Kovalchuk said. “Usually we were battling against [each other]. It’s a great opportunity. I’m going to try to help any way I can.”

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan will speak with the media at 3 p.m.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide