This afternoon, during Steve Zipay’s weekly chat with New York Rangers fans, the writer proposed a trade 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. Yet, at the same time, it doesn’t.
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. It's something they needed to make the playoffs.
Kovalev, who turns thirty-eight next February, is a shell of his former self. His career high forty-four goals in 2000/01, with the Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as ten additional seasons of twenty or more goals, are a thing of the past.
But after a thirty-five goal campaign three years ago, Kovalev has followed with two mediocre seasons. The first one came with the Montreal Canadiens, while the second occurred when he was with the Ottawa Senators, in his first year of a two-year contract, last season. 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 do 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 he's stepped up in big spots.
Rosival's $5 million cap hit is identical to Kovalev's.
The defenseman could fit in very nicely in Ottawa, and provide the same minutes-eating that he did in New York, replacing Volchenkov's.
From 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. He only scored thirteen goals in sixty-six games.
Kovalev 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 left 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 don't suppose that the Rangers offense could be hurt by Kovalev, seeing how terrible it was last season.
It's definitely something they should consider.
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