This afternoon, during Steve Zipay’s weekly chat with New York Rangers fans, he proposed a trade that the team should consider. He suggested that the Rangers send Michal Rozsival to the Ottawa Senators for Alexei Kovalev, straight up.
When glancing at this trade, it makes sense and at the same time it doesn’t.
Alexei Kovalev could certainly give the Rangers a small boost of scoring, on the team’s second line. The Rangers major downfall last season was their lack of secondary scoring, something which if they had, may have reached the playoffs.
Kovalev, who will be turning thirty-eight in February, is a shell of his former self that saw his score a career high forty-four goals in 2000/01 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as ten addition seasons of twenty or more goals.
But after a thirty-five goal campaign three seasons ago, Kovalev has followed with two mediocre ones. The first of those was on the Montreal Canadiens, and the second was on the Ottawa Senators in his first year of a two-year contract last season, when he scored only eighteen goals.
With the Senators about to lose top defenseman Anton Volchenkov to free agency, it makes sense that they would be in the market for a defenseman. The Rangers, who have a plethora of youth on the blue line will surely be doing everything they can to move either Redden or Rozsival.
Rozsival, as much as fans despise him, was very solid down the stretch this past season, and has shown he is capable of stepping up in big spots. He carries a cap hit of $5 million, identical to that of Kovalev.
He could fit in very nicely in Ottawa, and provide the same minutes-eating that he did in New York, and replace those of Volchenkov.
For the Rangers standpoint, if the Senators did want to make the trade, would they want to bring in another aging star on the cusp of retirement?
Granted, Kovalev knows what it is like to play in New York. He played the first seven seasons of his career here, notching twenty goals four times. He was also a member of the 1994 Stanley Cup team, becoming part of the first Russians to ever have their name engraved on the Cup. However, his second, albeit brief stint with the Rangers was not as enjoyable.
After he was acquired midway through the 2002/03 season, he scored ten goals in twenty-four games, giving fans hope. But the next season would be a disaster, as he only scored thirteen goals in sixty-six games. He was booed night in and night out (much like the rest of the team that season) and was then shipped out to Montreal, where he underwent a renaissance.
But now, Kovalev is approaching the end of what is potentially a hall-of-fame career. With only one year on his contract, the Rangers would end up freeing up $5 million a season sooner. To me, that would be the only reason to make this deal.
The Rangers could easily replace him with a cheaper option via free agency, such as Jay McKee, give the spot to Anders Eriksson, or see if one of their glaring prospects can step right into an NHL lineup. I do not suppose that the Rangers offense could be hurt by Kovalev, seeing how terrible it was last season. It is definitely something they should consider.