The Washington Capitals have acquired forward Ilya Kovalchuk from the Montreal Canadiens for a 2020 third round pick, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today. In addition, Montreal has agreed to retain 50 percent of Kovalchuk's salary and cap hit.
"Ilya is a talented offensive player who we feel will provide us with additional depth and flexibility up front," said MacLellan. "He is a skilled forward who can make plays and contribute to our offensive game."
Kovalchuk, 36, a native of Tver, Russia, recorded 13 points (6g, 7a) in 22 games with the Canadiens and another nine points (3g, 6a) in 17 games with the Los Angeles Kings this season. The 6'3", 222-pound forward recorded a 54.70 shot attempt percentage (324 shot attempts for, 268 against) with Montreal. Kovalchuk's 0.27 goals per game was tied with Jonathan Drouin for the fourth-highest rating on the Canadiens. Kovalchuk scored seven of his nine goals at even strength, and his 65.38 on-ice goals for percentage (17 on-ice goals for, nine against) at five-on-five was tied for the highest percentage among Canadiens with at least 20 games played this season.
In 919 career games between the Atlanta Thrashers, New Jersey Devils, Kings and Canadiens, Kovalchuk has recorded 919 points (442g, 430a). Kovalchuk has recorded at least 30 goals in a season nine times in his career - one of 45 players in NHL history to accomplish this feat. Among active NHL players, Kovalchuk's 442 career goals and 144 power play goals each rank fifth in the NHL. Kovalchuk earned the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy in 2003-04 (with Jarome Iginla and Rick Nash). Kovalchuk ranks fourth in NHL history in goals and seventh in points by Russian-born players.
Kovalchuk became the first Russian in NHL history to be selected with the first overall pick when he was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2001 NHL Draft. Kovalchuk ranks first in his draft class in goals (442).
Kovalchuk has recorded 27 points (11g, 16a) in 32 career NHL playoff games. Kovalchuk led New Jersey to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, leading the Devils with 19 points (8g, 11a) in 23 games.
Kovalchuk recorded 327 points (138g, 189a) in 298 career KHL games, all with SKA St. Petersburg. He has represented Russia at 21 international competitions, including five Olympic Games (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018), earning a gold medal in 2018.