The exodus in the nation's capital continues as the Ottawa Senators have shipped veteran forward Alex Kovalev to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a seventh-round pick.
The Penguins acquired Kovalev in a trade with the New York Rangers in 1998, with Petr Nedved being the principle piece traded the other way. From then until 2003 Kovalev skated 345 games with Pittsburgh, putting up 347 points (149 goals, 198 assists). In 2003, with the team plunging into economic turmoil, the Pens had to trade Kovalev back to the Rangers, with this time the principle piece being $5 million dollars coming back to Pittsburgh.
Since leaving Pittsburgh, Kovalev's reputation has taken several hits. New York traded him to Montreal in '04, tired of his inconsistent play. His time in Montreal would be a roller coaster of good times (like when he scored 84 points in '07-08) and bad points, again plagued by a lack of team mentality and run-ins with the Montreal media. Then Kovalev jumped ship to Ottawa in the summer of '09, where he was mostly a bust.
This is the final year of his $5 million contract, and ironically, Pittsburgh is now one of the few contending teams that can afford him under the salary cap and was obviously willing to have him.
To acquire Kovalev at a pittance of a seventh round pick shows there was no market for him, no other bidders. Ottawa was happy just to get something for him and clear him off the books as they move to rebuild.
What does it mean for Pittsburgh? We told you here it wasn't crazy for the Pens to consider it, Kovalev is one of the few vets with skill that wouldn't cost a heavy price on the trade market.
Will he fit the Penguins style? Pittsburgh wingers are notorious for being low on skill and high on work ethic/positioning and "buying in" to the team concept. Alexei Kovalev is a polar opposite. No one knows if he will fit on this team, but even if it doesn't work, surely he'll be benched much like Alexei Ponikarovsky, Miroslav Satan and Petr Sykora have been in recent years. That didn't hurt team morale or cause any problems and neither will this move.
Acquiring Alex Kovalev for a 7th round pick is a low-to-no risk move with a potentially nice return. He's not a 80-90 point guy anymore, but he can add some desperately needed skill, especially when you look at who the team has had to resort to playing on the power play lately.