When reports came out that former Atlanta Thrashers left wing Ilya Kovalchuk may be on the trading block earlier this season, the Flyers had many discussions about a possible future for him in Philadelphia. Unfortunately for Flyers fans, those talks never left the front office and Kovalchuk eventually found himself in New Jersey.
With Ilya Kovalchuk now back on the market as a free agent, could Philadelphia be once again pursuing him?
Many reports around the league state that Ilya’s future with New Jersey is still completely uncertain as the 26-year-old Russian star seeks a long term deal with a team that is in consistent contention for the Stanley Cup. Philadelphia could be a good fit for Kovalchuk depending, of course, on what the Flyers are willing to pay.
Many predict that Ilya will be looking for a contract upwards of $10 million per year, but is he worth it?
In 2009-2010, Kovalchuk finished 11th in the NHL in total points with 85 and sixth in goals scored with 41. That's eight goals higher than Philadelphia’s leading scorer (Carter) and nearly 25 points higher than the Flyers' leading point producer (Richards). That type of production would clearly help any team in the NHL, especially one that lacks a high-scoring superstar like Philadelphia.
Although he puts up good numbers, many people don’t believe Ilya would be a great fit in Philadelphia.
Head coach Peter Laviolette has built a Philadelphia team that's focused on teamwork and the ability to work as one unit in order to reach their goal. Bringing a high profile superstar to a team that has good chemistry could ultimately spell disaster for the Flyers, possibly dividing a team that was only a few goals shy of a Stanley Cup championship.
Also, Philadelphia already has a roster full of young, talented left wingers and would need to let go of a quality player or two to make room for Ilya in the lines.
So what does Ilya think about the situation?
Most scenarios have Kovalchuk remaining with the Devils or playing in his home country of Russia. That doesn't mean that Ilya signing with another team is completely out of the question, as he has stated that he would like to get a feel for all of his options before he signs anywhere. Kovalchuk has also gone on record stating that he would not like to play for a team in a large market which rules out teams like the Rangers, Red Wings, Blackhawks, and depending on a matter of opinion, the Flyers.
Whatever the case turns out to be, Ilya Kovalchuk will dominate the NHL free agent headlines until he finally signs that big contract he's looking for. Whether or not that's in Philadelphia, New Jersey, or in the NHL at all remains to be seen.