Ilya Kovalchuk spoke to the Montreal Canadiens press Monday morning hours after being traded to the Washington Capitals for a third-round pick. According to Kovalchuk, he was given the opportunity from Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin to give input on which team he wanted to go to and he picked the Caps.
“It’s a business but I appreciated everything Montreal done for me – especially Marc,” Kovalchuk said. “He ask me, actually, and I think Washington would be a really good fit for me. I know a lot of guys there and I’m very excited to go there for sure.”
Kovalchuk revealed that Bergevin had “better offers” from other teams, but the Habs GM opted to send him to the Capitals to respect his wishes.
— Owen Johnson (@OwenJohnsonsTwr) February 24, 2020
Part of Bergevin’s reasoning could have been to treat Kovalchuk well now in hopes of re-signing the Russian forward over the summer as an unrestricted free agent.
“[W]hen I’ll be free agent, it’s one of the destinations that will be in my mind for sure,” Kovalchuk said. “Like I said, the fans here, the players, I think the younger players, the direction where this team is going, I really like it a lot.”
Meanwhile, Kovalchuk wanted to come to Washington because he saw a role for himself and the prior relationships he had with many of team’s players, especially the Russians (Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, and Ilya Samsonov).
“We just played [Washington],” Kovalchuk said. “I feel like I can help. They already good everywhere, but it’s a good opportunity. I know a lot of guys there. I play against, I play with. Nationals teams or on other teams so it’s exciting for me. Obviously, they are looking to go all the way so hopefully, we’ll do some damage in the playoffs.”
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