The Winter Olympics are days away, and NHL fans will still keep an eye on the hockey tournament, despite no NHLers taking part in the event. Russian star Ilya Kovalchuk is one of the leaders of the Russian team, and fans in America will get an even better idea of what the veteran forward can bring back to the NHL.
Because yes, the 34-year-old forward was claimed to be interested in coming back to the NHL, and Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman has revealed where the Russian player would like to go if he can return in the league.
"One of the Olympic hockey subplots will be Ilya Kovalchuk. Unlike last summer, when New Jersey held his rights, he is unrestricted this time. And, if he comes back to the NHL, it is believed his eyes are on New York," writes Friedman his in latest 31 Thoughts.
Now, Friedman did not precise which New York team Kovalchuk has his eyes on. The Islanders and the Rangers could be in the Russian's target, but many believe the veteran has always had a preference for the Blue Shirts. Back in April last year, Slava Malamud has reported that Kovalchuk and his family would prefer to live in New York City.
Kovalchuk will be 35 years old in April, but has proven he still has a lot of gas in the tank. In 298 games in the KHL, Kovalchuk has 327 points, and last season he finished with 78 points in 60 games.
The Rangers could use a boost up front, and could manage to sign Kovalchuk to a one-year deal, a bit like we saw Jaromir Jagr accept with the Calgary Flames. If ever Kovalchuk cannot perform or remain healthy, the risk is not overwhelming for the Rangers.
Kovalchuk retired from the NHL with 417 goals and 816 points in 816 games played. During that time, he proved himself to be one of the best NHL goal scorers of his generation.
NHL teams will surely keep an eye on him during the Olympic tournament, as he remains a force to reckon with.