What Illya Kovalchuk Loss Means to the Caps

Posted August 6, 2013

Ovechkin won’t pull a Kovalchuk. (Caps Outsider)

Will Ilya Kovalchuk, who retired from the NHL to play for the KHL, impact Washington Capitals’ Russian players?

Last month, Kovalchuk retired from the New Jersey Devils and then instantly signed a four-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. He makes around $15 million per year in Russia. He is 30 years old, had 12 years remaining on his deal and left $77 million dollars on the table in New Jersey.

How will his decision impact the Washington Caps? Prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov last week told sovsport.ru, “I think I’ll return to Russia from the NHL when I’m 30.” He is 21-years old and is expected to join the Caps ether in March or next fall depending on how far Traktor (his KHL team) goes.  My take on his comments is not to look too much into it. He is still nine years away from turning 30 and has yet to play a game in DC. A whole lot can change in that time. He may not even be with Washington in nine years.

Alex Ovechkin, who is a good friend of Kovalchuk’s, is the Capital everyone is worried about. During the lockout last year, he said, “If contracts get slashed, most players won’t return.”  That’s of course if there wasn’t an NHL season, but Ovechkin even thinking that is concerning. Will the Olympics being played is Sochi, Russia make Ovechkin want to come home sooner? The Sporting News has an interesting article on him during the lockout which may have given away Kovalchuk’s decision looking back on it. My take on Ovechkin is he will stay with the Caps and finish his career here, but his comments are very interesting to say the least.

He is one of the most exciting, if not the most exciting player to watch in the entire NHL. He had 58 points in the condensed season last year. He is the most important player to the Caps, as well as the Captain of the team.  It would be scary to see him leave for Russia and play in the KHL, and let’s hope Kovalchuk doesn’t make this a thing among Russian stars. Evgeni Malkin said he “has everything” in the NHL. We want to hear Ovechkin say it, too, loud and clear, just to put our minds at ease.