Another year removed from hitting the open market, the Florida Panthers should highly consider signing sniper Ilya Kovalchuk if the price is reasonable.
There are certainly some intriguing factors involved in the possible pursuit of the well-regarded Russian superstar. His desire to play for the Cats as he’s made it apparent over the years that he’d be more than welcomed to become a Florida Panther. Some hints include: attending plenty Panthers games, wife has home in South Florida and Ilya mentioned Florida as one of the teams he’d strongly consider quite recently until announcing he’d remain in the KHL for another year(wants to play in Olympics).
His shoot first mentality is a characteristic the Panthers are in desperate need of as the Cats contain plenty of forwards who distribute the puck efficiently, that can set up numerous scoring chances for Kovalchuk who often capitalizes when receiving a great opportunity close range.
Although he’s 34 years old (turning 35 once heading to the NHL in 2018), Kovy is still incredibly productive as he produced 32G and 46A for 78 points in 60 games last season in the KHL. He’s demonstrated that he elevate his style of play when highly depended on during crucial moments of an intense hockey game.
Kovalchuk won 2 Gagarin Cups playing for SKA Saint Petersburg alongside current Panther Evgeny Dadonov, as those two had excellent chemistry when paired together. If signed at a reasonable deal, Kovalchuk could potentially provide an immediate spark to the Panthers lineup as his offensive game would compliment the tremendous passing abilities of forwards such as Vincent Trocheck , Jonathan Huberdeau , Aleksander Barkov and Evgeny Dadonov.
The Cats are desperate for a proven sniper as Kovalchuk, despite his increasingly rising age, could make an immediate impact as he had previous success in the NHL and continues to be effective while playing in Russia’s most competitive hockey league. His play-making ability and historic track record makes Kovy incredibly valuable and highly coveted by many teams.
Kovalchuk would add plenty of experience (especially playoffs and containing a winning pedigree) to a young Panthers group as he’s won an abundance of accolades proving to be one of the greatest Russian hockey players in this modern era.
He’ll certainly be a threat on the PP as he’s normally located in the same position as fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin: left corner. When he receives the puck, he absolutely demolishes it with a powerful slapper or precise wrister beating the goalie in many fashions.
Kovalchuk will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, 2018 and Florida should definitely send over some international scouts overseas to evaluate the current game of Iyla, to see whether he’s worth the financial committment that Florida could be preparing to make.