Newcomer Alexei Kovalev Makes Ottawa Senators More Dangerous

----- -----------Correspondent IJuly 8, 2009

RALEIGH, NC - APRIL 22:  Alex Kovalev #27 of the Montreal Canadiens is congratulated by teammate Tomas Plekanec #35 after Kovalev scored a goal in the second period against the Carolina Hurricanes in game one of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2006 NHL Playoffs at RBC Center on April 22, 2006 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Did you ever hear the expression "don't poke the bear?"

That's the statement I've always used about the Ottawa Senators. My advice to teams was get in, get out, don't get fancy, and pray you win. Their top line is one of the best in the East, and the addition of Alexei Kovalev only makes them better. 

Kovalev has been with the team for two days, and his aspirations have already skyrocketed. Surely, Kovalev's motives for choosing Ottawa as his destination were calculated. 

Many teams could have tendered an offer sheet to Kovalev. You can name teams willing to put down a buck on his inconsistency simply because when he is on, he is on fire.

Ottawa wasn't just the biggest bidder; they also have the most potential for success.

Kovalev waited to see how the Dany Heatley saga would drag out. He saw a trade or two fall apart and the Senators GM harden up on the whole situation. For the time being, Heatley will be a Senator.

So how does this affect Kovalev's decision, you might ask?

Simple. He sees the Ottawa Senators with one of the best first lines in the entire Eastern Conference.

He knows they had cap room to throw him a big contract, and he knows he can slide in, potentially replacing Heatley alongside Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza. 

Another scenario could be the breakup of the current trio and putting Spezza with Heatley in hopes to renew Heatley's love for Canada's capital, while pairing the ever so talented Alfredsson with Kovalev or some other combination.

Either way, whoever he plays with out of those three big names will be a better fit than when Montreal had him playing with Andrei Kostitsyn and Christopher Higgins, or whomever else he juggled his line with.

So the move is simple: Get a big paycheck and play with big names and producers. It was an easy call, and he's confident that the results will be big.

Kovalev spoke to reporters yesterday and declared his intentions—to bring the Stanley Cup to Canada's capital. 

Kovalev first spoke of the fans in Montreal and their dedicated determination to keep him in the city of Les Habitants by signing a petition and holding a rally.

"I definitely appreciate it. I can't find the words to say to the Montreal fans. They always gave me a lot of support. It's just hard to accept it that this happened in life. I'm sure they understand why it is happening. We always have to choose what is best for our lives and our families," Kovalev said.

Albeit a sentimental statement targeted for Montreal, I'm sure this will hold no weight when he returns to the city bearing the crest of the Senators, dangling past Hal Gill and whomever else to get his ever-so-perfect wrist shot into the top corner, putting icing on the cake for the Canadiens, who had to let him go.

Kovalev said, "Ottawa is a pretty good team that has a chance to win the Stanley Cup. I think I can bring something that was missing to help the team be competitive for the Stanley Cup. They have always had one really good line, year after year, but I think, maybe I can be part of creating two or three good lines so we can be successful in the playoffs." 

This only comes as bad news to the other teams in the division and conference. Montreal, Boston, and Toronto know all too well the damage the Heatley-Spezza-Alfredsson line produced throughout the years, especially during their run to the Cup in 2007. 

"I'm not a big believer that one line can do all the damage," Kovalev says, only showing confidence that his landing in Ottawa will produce big damage for the teams the Senators play against.

Kovalev answered some uncomfortable questions about his inconsistency and difficulty to coach, but he remained adamant, ending the interview with the following statement: "I'm not a young guy anymore, so I want to win another Stanley Cup. Whenever I join another team, I say that is my goal [...] to win another Stanley Cup."

Spoken like a veteran of the ages.

Ottawa will once again be the team to beat. They now have arguably four of the top players in the Eastern Conference. Their power play will be dangerous, as well as their top two lines.

Kovalev may be inconsistent, but his numbers speak for themselves. Just last year, he had 26 goals and 39 assists for a grand total of 65 points.

He sits comfortably with 941 total points in 1,151 NHL games between the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and his most recent team, the Montreal Canadiens.