The Los Angeles Kings have signed "retired" free agent forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a three-year deal worth $6.25 million per season. The 35-year-old winger played the last five seasons in the KHL.
The Kings get: A proven NHL player and five-time 40-goal scorer, two-time 50-goal scorer. And Kovalchuk's 141 points (63 goals) over the last two seasons led all KHL players. However, his last season in the NHL was in 2012-13 and he managed just 11 goals and 31 points in 37 games. But was his heart in it? Also at the time he was in a defensive Devils' coaching system.
Fantasy Players Impacted: Despite his age, Kovalchuk is an upper-tier player who will have a longer career than most. He will still be productive in 2018-19 and likely 2019-20 as well. With the Kings it is probably safe to pencil him in for the low-60s in terms of points, with an upside of into the mid-70s. This is a tough team to project now in terms of the top six forwards because Kovalchuk could either play with Anze Kopitar and bump Dustin Brown down the lineup, or he could play with Jeff Carter and thus bump Tanner Pearson down the lineup. Whoever gets bumped down the roster will take at least a 30% haircut in terms of his goals and assists. Likely in the first half you will see both things happen as Coach John Stevens jockeys his players around. That means both Pearson and Brown take a bit of a hit. Now, does this help Kopitar? Well, how can you possibly help a 92-point season? He can't get any better than that, but this will certainly help him maintain such crazy production. But this is an upgrade for the other pivot – Jeff Carter. And this will help the other wingers Tyler Toffoli and (for now) Alex Iafallo.
Another thing to keep an eye on is the fact that prospect Nikolay Prokhorkin's KHL contract runs out next spring. He may be more inclined to finally cross the pond if Kovalchuk is here. He's a potential second-line player.
Fantasy Players this helps, in order:
1. Ilya Kovalchuk
2. Tyler Toffoli
3. Alex Iafallo