The Boston Bruins passed on Ilya Kovalchuk once before. And now, ahead of the 2020 NHL trade deadline, it looks like they have passed on him again.
While there were rumors in early February that the Montreal Canadiens winger was drawing interest from the Bruins, they weren't the team that ultimately ended up trading for him.
Instead, the Washington Capitals acquired Kovalchuk to help their offense for the cost of a third-round pick, according to the Canadiens official Twitter account.
It's also worth noting that the Canadiens ate 50 percent of Kovalchuk's minuscule salary to help the cap-strapped Capitals, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.
Not kidding when I say this, the Habs retained 50 percent on Kovalchuk’s league minimum salary and cap hit. So about 76k. Every dime counts for the cap-challenged Captials.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 24, 2020
So, the Kovalchuk trade will take another potential Bruins trade target off the board a day ahead of the NHL's trade deadline.
Kovalchuk started the season with the Los Angeles Kings but fell out of favor amid struggles for both himself and the team. The Bruins were rumored to be among the initial suitors following his buyout, but they elected not to pursue him, instead sticking with Brett Ritchie and David Backes at the time. Ritchie has since been waived while Backes was waived and subsequently traded.
Kovalchuk has nine goals and 13 assists in 39 games played this season and has looked rejuvenated with the Canadiens. It's possible that he could've provided the team with a scoring jolt they need on the second line and at the very least, he would've provided cheap, veteran depth on either wing.
But it's also possible the team could be holding out in hopes of landing a bigger fish, like Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers, as they look to make another run to the Stanley Cup Final. And they did just land Ondrej Kase in a trade involving Backes, so perhaps they're hoping he can make an impact on their middle-two lines.
We'll soon see exactly what the Bruins have planned for Monday. But if Don Sweeney wants to make one last move to strengthen the Bruins core, he'll have to move fast to get it done as trade options continue to fly off the board.
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of the NHL trade deadline. This Monday at 2:30 p.m., stream the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline Show on the MyTeams app and on NBCSportsBoston.com.