aPRIL 9, 2018 | 8:12PM ET
KOVALCHUK SET TO JOIN RANGERS?
Ilya Kovalchuk, left wing
The New York Rangers never promised a rebuild. In an open letter to their fans on February 8, the Rangers voiced their displeasure with their club and vowed to turn things around.
The Rangers stated they had begun “the process of reshaping our team this past summer,” and made a promise to the fanbase “that our plans will be guided to our singular commitment: ensuring we are building the foundation for our next Stanley Cup contender.”
Having moved the likes of captain Ryan McDonagh, defenceman Nick Holden, and forwards Michael Grabner and J.T. Miller this season, most around the hockey world expected, and continue to expect, a roster overhaul focused on younger talent, something “the letter” also mentioned.
But many scratched their heads today when reports out of Russia suggested the Rangers were going to land pending free agent left wing Ilya Kovalchuk to a multi-year contract.
Kovalchuk, who turns 35 on April 15, can become an unrestricted free agent July 1 and will be free to sign with any NHL club.
He told Russian reporters on Sunday he plans on spending the next two to three years in the NHL, and NHL.ru and Sport-Express reporter Igor Eronko claims he’ll do so with the Rangers.
According to Russian media outlet SovSport, the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks may also be an option for Kovalchuk, if a deal with the Rangers does not materialize.
Kovalchuk, who last played in the NHL in 2012-13 with the New Jersey Devils before bolting for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, does have an off-season home just outside of Miami.
In 816 career NHL regular-season games with the Atlanta Thrashers and Devils, Kovalchuk has registered 417 goals and 399 assists for 816 points.