Update: TSN.ca now reports that Kovalev has signed a two-year deal with Ottawa. More on this tomorrow.
Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey told radio station CJAD in Montreal that the club will not be re-signing winger Alex Kovalev. I can’t say I’m surprised considering the way Gainey’s spending spree went in the aftermath of the opening of the July 1 free agency period. Kovalev had his ups and downs with the club last season, as he was told to stay home from a road trip at one point and his production dropped from 35 to 26 goals and 84 to 65 points.
The big question now is, where does Kovalev land? Teams like Washington and Pittsburgh reportedly couldn’t consider him because they don’t have the cap room. Strictly an Eastern Conference player since he came to North America, Kovalev might have to go out West or join a rebuilding team if he wants to remain in the NHL. Or he could return home and skate in the KHL. Either way, he won’t be battling the Boston Bruins in those Bruins-Habs grudge matches anymore.
And while the Habs are cutting ties with a Russian star, Toronto is expanding its reach in Sweden. Not only are the Leafs in pursuit of goaltener Jonas Gustavsson, but they’re also after his teammate Rickard Wallin. GM Brian Burke wants him team to get tougher and he’s in pursuit of stars from Sweden. Isn’t that a little contradictory?