Ilya Kovalchuk
Ilya Kovalchuk
35-Year-Old Right WingRW
Los Angeles Kings
2018 Fantasy Outlook
Six years after bolting from his 15-year, $100 million contract with the Devils to return to his native Russia and play in the KHL, Kovalchuk will make his return to the NHL with the Kings. Rumors had flown about his desire to rejoin the NHL ranks in the last few offseason, but he shed the voluntary retirement label this offseason by turning 35, allowing him to sign without restrictions. He's aged well, still posting 63 points -- 31 goals and 32 assists -- over 53 contests for KHL St. Petersburg last season. A well-rounded forward noted for his skating ability, Kovalchuk will again test his mettle at hockey's highest level and should immediately slot into a top-six and power-play role to make an already-talented Kings squad more dangerous. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with the Kings in June of 2018.
Responds to coach's decision
RWLos Angeles Kings
March 22, 2019
Kovalchuk has publicly voiced frustration about interim Kings coach Willie Desjardins keeping him out of the lineup for two of the past three games as a healthy scratch, Lisa Dillman of The Athletic reports.
Getting relegated to the press box is discouraging in its own right, but Dillman writes that Kovalchuk was especially fired up about the Kings using an extra defenseman rather than another forward with the Russian scratched against the Sharks on Thursday. "It's horrible," Kovalchuk said. "That's the worst. But (coach Willie Desjardins) didn't play young guys. He plays 7 D. That's his new strategy." The 35-year-old has posted 14 goals, 17 assists and a minus-26 rating through 60 games -- his first NHL campaign since a final go-around with the Devils in 2012-13 (and following five years in the KHL). But alas, this may be a blessing in disguise, as Kovalchuk noted he'll "find a way to get through it" and certainly seems motivated to prove to the coaching staff that he still has gas in the tank.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Ilya Kovalchuk put his disappointing first season in New Jersey behind him and reminded the NHL of the type of player he’s capable of being, finishing fifth in the league with 83 points in 77 games. Surprisingly, Kovalchuk also developed into a formidable two-way player, notching three shorthanded goals. Was his production a product of Zach Parise? We think not. We think he can have a similar impact this season while being the team’s lone elite scoring threat. Bump him up a few spots in leagues that count shots on goal, but expecting 30 goals and close to 80 points are not out of the question. He finished last season with a herniated disk in his lower back, so be certain to monitor his health during training camp.
Kovalchuk's first full season in Newark featured a good amount of highs and lows. The enigmatic winger finished with 31 goals and 29 assists to mask an ugly minus-26 rating. Of course, 22 goals in the season's final 45 games was his saving grace. His turbulent year could result in him falling from the first-round perch in fantasy land, but one shouldn't wait too long to pounce on Kovalchuk. To that end, his second half numbers are more in line with what he'll do this season. Kovalchuk will see a great deal of power-play ice time, hopefully while rewarding owners who bought low on the former first-round lock.
- Following a lengthy contract battle this summer featuring the NHL rejecting two of the deals agreed to by Kovalchuk and the Devils, the Russian sniper will be playing out his career with New Jersey, agreeing to a 15-year, $100 million contract that was approved by the NHL in early September. Kovalchuk pressed at times last season, attempting to do too much and didn’t have the support needed in the playoffs. Look for Kovalchuk to man the point on the power play and will aim for his seventh-consecutive 40-goal season. One of the league’s elite talents will bring his trade to New Jersey and expect the team to rely great upon him to bolster the offense. If your league counts shots on goal, bump Kovalchuk up a few slots as he’s certainly not shy about launching the puck. Some may feel New Jersey’s system could stifle some of Kovalchuk’s skill, but they didn’t bring him in to backcheck, so look for another strong season, but 50 goals might be a stretch, but his plus-minus will no longer be the albatross it was during his tenure with Atlanta.
Kovalchuk is one of the most talented players in the league and showed it in the 2008-09 campaign. He brings an enormous amount of speed and wonderful stick-handling to the lineup for all the world to see. He plays the point on the power play and usually plays the full two minutes on the blue line. His sizzling one-timer wreaks havoc on the opposing goaltenders. He ended up with a total of 91 points on the season last year and can reach, or even top, that plateau again. His 43 goals was good for 4th in the league and will continue to show he’s one of the best goal scorers in the game. He started of a little slow last season, but really turned it on tallying 41 points in his last 26 games of the season. Now with Antropov in the lineup, he should thrive even more.
Kovalchuk had another stellar year in 2007-08 scoring 52 goals and 87 points. He will continue to get tons of ice time, and should see even more this year. Kovalchuk won’t have the talented Hossa with him, but he's too dynamic to have a slow year. He will still man the point on the power play (probably for the full two minutes), and show off his big blast every chance he gets. Expect another 50 goal season from the Russian sniper.
Kovalchuk’s 2006-07 campaign was an up and down affair. He would go on scoring binges and then go cold for weeks. This was especially true where he has been the money in the past -- on the power play. It’s not all bad news from last year. He was still 37th in the league in points, fifth with 339 shots and he had the best plus-minus of his career (-2). Chuck in his 66 PIM’s and he’s not looking so bad after all. If you can get Kovalchuk a little later in your draft you could end up with a steal -- we think he’s still got a 50 goal 90 point season in him. It’s all about the upside.
Third in the league in goals, eighth in points, first in power-play points, sixth in shots all adds up to Kovalchuk being one of the top 10 players selected in your league this year. He has increased his goal tally every year in the league – 29, 38, 41, 52 – and could do the same this year since he won’t miss any time in training camp due to contract disputes. The loss of Marc Savard will hurt Kovalchuk slightly on the power play (he didn’t play with him at full strength) but there is enough talent up front in Atlanta to support Kovalchuk on the PP.
Kovalchuk is the best player on the Thrashers and one of the 10 best in the league. Last year he racked up a league-leading 41 goals, 87 points and an incredible 341 shots -- first in the league by 41 shots. Kovalchuk also chips in some PIMs as well as lots of power play points. The only area he’s struggled in has been +/- but that should improve this year and going forward as Atlanta continues to improve. Kovalchuk, one of the bright young stars of the league, is an excellent player for any team to build around and Atlanta looks like it is beginning to do this. Currently, he is unsigned and is threatening to play in Russia. Atlanta needs him if it hopes to keep making strides to improve, so look for him to sign in time to be in the opening day lineup.
More Fantasy News
Gathers helper in return
RWLos Angeles Kings
March 18, 2019
Kovalchuk generated an assist in Monday's 3-2 loss to the Jets.
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Returns to lineup
RWLos Angeles Kings
March 18, 2019
Kovalchuk (coach's decision) will play in Monday's game against Winnipeg, Curtis Zupke of the Los Angeles Times reports.
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Scratched from Saturday's lineup
RWLos Angeles Kings
Coach's Decision
March 16, 2019
Kovalchuk (coach's decision) wasn't present for warmups ahead of Saturday's game against the Panthers, Curtis Zupke of the Los Angeles Times reports.
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Triumphant return
RWLos Angeles Kings
March 3, 2019
Kovalchuk earned a goal and an assist in Saturday's 6-3 home win over the Blackhawks.
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Good to go against Chicago
RWLos Angeles Kings
March 1, 2019
Kovalchuk (upper body) is expected to return to the lineup for Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Curtis Zupke of the Los Angeles Times reports.
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