January 5, 2019 | 12:42pm ET
KOVALCHUK FRUSTRATED, RIDING IT OUT FOR NOW
Ilya Kovalchuk, winger
In his first 14 games of the season, left wing Ilya Kovalchuk was a point-per-game player, seeing action primarily on the club’s top line, with some time spent on the second unit.
In his last 18 games, Kovalchuk has three points (two goals on Dec 22 and one assist the following night).
Since the Kings’ coaching change, Kovalchuk’s seen the majority of his time on the club’s third or fourth lines. Interim head coach Willie Desjardins has failed to provide any valid public reasoning for the assignment, outside of repeatedly telling the local press it’s a “coaching decision.”
Speaking to those close to Kovalchuk, multiple sources have confirmed to TFP Editor-in-Chief David Pagnotta that he’s frustrated and unhappy with his current role on the team.
The 35-year-old signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with the Kings this past summer, expecting to be part of a team that competed for a playoff spot. They’re currently last in the NHL.
Kovalchuk’s contract includes a no-movement clause, though there is some belief he’d be willing to explore a trade to a contender of his choosing, if the right deal fell into place.
To date, Kovalchuk has not asked for a trade, though some conversations are believed to have occurred with the club about his role, according to Pagnotta.
If Kovalchuk doesn’t see consistent time on one of the team’s top-two lines as the weeks progress, it’s possible the Kings explore realistic trade options leading up to the Feb. 25 trade deadline.
Both the Kings and Kovalchuk’s agent, Pat Brisson, declined to comment publicly on the subject.