A day after dining with POTUS, Alex Ovechkin shared a photo of himself taking a swig of wine with Russian hockey legend Ilya Kovalchuk on Christmas day.
From playing on the Russian national team together to raising rubles for charity, the two hockey stars have been longtime friends and supporters of each other. Ovechkin and Kovalchuk also both own homes in the Miami area.
“marry christmas!” Ovechkin wrote on Instagram.
The timing of the Instagram post is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser. Kovalchuk was put on unconditional waivers by the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, December 16, and officially released the next day after going unclaimed. He’s free to sign with any team he wants in the NHL or KHL.
Reports have suggested that there is NHL interest in Kovalchuk.
There appears to be some interest for new UFA Ilya Kovalchuk…
There are several considering signing him but all want to take time to discuss over holiday freeze with coach and staff about the role and the fit.
— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) December 19, 2019
And the Russian winger would be willing to play on a minimum salary.
Per source Ilya Kovalchuk wants to sign with a contender and would be OK with a minimum salary. Bruins are interested
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) December 17, 2019
It’s unknown whether the Capitals would have interest in signing Kovalchuk as a depth forward. The Caps are the top team in the NHL in terms of standings points through the Christmas break and have scored the most goals in the league (137) through 38 games. But if they wanted to ink the Russian to a deal for the rest of the season, they technically could.
According to CapFriendly, the Capitals have a current cap space of $1,378,409 and a projected cap space of $748,491. The veteran minimum in the NHL is $700,000.
Kovalchuk only made it through half of his three-year, $18.75 contract that he originally signed with the Kings on July 1, 2018. The Kings hoped Kovalchuk would be a top offensive player that would help the team win in the playoffs. Instead, the Kings have fallen on hard times. LA is the worst team in the Western Conference this season (34 standings points). The 36-year-old tallied 19 goals and 24 assists in 81 total games.
The NHL holiday roster freeze ends at 12:01 AM on December 28.
Headline photo: Alex Ovechkin
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