Bruins

NHL Rumors: Could Bruins sign Ilya Kovalchuk for league minimum?

NHL Rumors: Could Bruins sign Ilya Kovalchuk for league minimum?

The Los Angeles Kings finally cut bait with Ilya Kovalchuk this week, but the 36-year-old's NHL career may not be over yet.

In fact, there's a chance he ends up in Black and Gold.

Kovalchuk wants to play for a Stanley Cup contender and would be open to signing a minimum contract, Igor Eronko of Russia's Sport-Express reported Tuesday.

Eronko noted the Boston Bruins are interested in signing Kovalchuk.

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A No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, the Russia native has made three NHL All-Star Games and helped carry the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012.

He left the Devils in 2013 to play five seasons in Russia's KHL before returning to sign with the Kings in 2018.

Kovalchuk hardly is the player he once was -- he had just nine points (three goals, six assists) in 17 games for Los Angeles this season -- but is coming off an 18-goal season for Los Angeles in 2018-19 and has 28 games of playoff experience.

The left winger likely would slot into Boston's third or fourth line and shouldn't be counted on to make a significant impact wherever he ends up. If he's willing to play for the league minimum, though, the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins may consider signing him as a low-risk depth add.

NHL Trade Deadline Report Cards: Which teams made the best moves?

NHL Trade Deadline Report Cards: Which teams made the best moves?

There are always winners and losers at the NHL trade deadline.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that a team is going to win a Stanley Cup, obviously, and some of the big winners at the deadline are lousy teams loading up on draft picks and assets for the future.

Still, it’s better to be moving and shaking at the trade deadline like a Carolina Hurricanes team that added Vincent Trocheck, Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen than be a non-playoff team like the Wild that made one early Jason Zucker trade with Pittsburgh before closing their shutters for the week.

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The biggest winner of all might have been the New York Rangers in retaining Chris Kreider with a seven-year contract rather than making him the biggest trade target on the market.

But each team received a grade for what they did leading up to Monday’s NHL trade deadline and we didn’t mince any words.

Click here for the gallery.

Sorry, Bruins fans: bigger doesn't always mean better

Sorry, Bruins fans: bigger doesn't always mean better

Before we begin: No, I have never gotten my ass kicked.

Celtics fans have a reputation for being sheep, but man, when it comes to predictability there isn’t a group of dummies easier to impress than Bruins fans.

Still haven't gotten my ass kicked. Probably getting closer, though.

All you have to do to win over the Bruin brigade is get someone tall and/or "physical." No one will be more willing to overlook actual effectiveness than B's fans. This is especially the case when swapping out a “softer” (though perhaps better) player.

Reilly Smith for Jimmy Hayes? Downgrade, but fans were ecstatic.

Use Loui Eriksson’s money to sign David Backes? Downgrade, catastrophic move, but fans were ecstatic.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

We got another installment this week on deadline day when the Bruins traded Danton Heinen to the Ducks for Nick Ritchie in a swap of disappointing 24-year-old left wings.  

The national reaction was not kind to Ritchie. The NHL Network's panel was particularly brutal in calling him in an overweight underachiever. 

But around here? Hoo boy, what a coup! We saw 6-foot-2, 234 pounds, 10th overall pick and a bunch of penalty minutes and dusted off Milan Lucic's 2011 jersey. 

I'll admit that as soon as I heard the Bruins traded for Nick Ritchie, I was confused. I remembered his name from the draft, but was unaware that he'd become a good player. And if he was a good player, why was he being traded? He was surely still young, unless I'd misremembered. 

Nope. He was drafted in 2014, same as Heinen. Had 14 goals as a rookie, but hasn't come close to that since. He does have eight goals in 41 games this season, but his shooting percentage this season is an absolute outlier for his career (11.4; his career shooting percentage prior was 8.3). His 19 points are aided by a four-point showing in his final game with the Ducks, the only multi-point game he's had this season. 

He does have 78 penalty minutes, but none of them are from fights. Just misconducts and tripping players who skate past him because they're faster. 

He was fifth on the Ducks in hits per 60, if you want to bring that up, but you shouldn't.  

The same people who like the "hits" stat are often the ones who discredit possession metrics. But "hits" is unquestionably a possession metric. It means you don't have the puck. There is a reason that eight of the top 15 teams in the league in hits are non-playoff teams. They are chasing the play. 

(And by the way, the Bruins are eighth in the league in hits. They absolutely don't need to "hit" more.)

So that's Ritchie in a nutshell; a not-so-good player, but I'm rooting for him. If his acquisition were met with an "eh, maybe he'll uncover something in Boston he hasn't been able to find before," this pretentious-ass column wouldn't be required.

But it wasn't, and here we are. 

And I'll say that I was totally cool with moving Heinen. That guy's arrow was pointing in the wrong direction after an impressive rookie year and so-so sophomore campaign.

So I would have traded Heinen and some combination of picks and prospects for a sure thing. If Nick Ritchie and some cap savings (which you could get anyway by trading Heinen in the offseason) was the best I could do, I would have probably passed. Heinen is not much of a loss (not the way he's played this season, anyway), but Ritchie isn't much of a gain. 

Maybe Ritchie does find new life in Boston. Maybe he becomes a good third-liner. Hell, maybe he scores early in Game 7 of the Cup Final when the other team's goalie is an absolute mess. That was the real reason the Bruins didn't win last year, not because they weren't tough enough.