TSN: Penguins bring back Kovalev - 02-24-11

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the Penguins have re-acquired forward from the Ottawa Senators. No word yet on what was sent to Ottawa in return. According to McKenzie, Kovalev waived a no-trade clause in order for the trade to be made.

UPDATE: The Senators received a conditional-sixth or seventh-round draft pick.

In the second year of a two-year contract he signed with Ottawa in the 2009 offseason, Kovalev has appeared in 54 games and scored 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists). He has a salary cap hit of $5 million.

Kovalev was an all-star for the Penguins in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 345 regular season games with the Penguins, Kovalev had 347 points, 16th-most in franchise history. In 39 postseason games, he scored 28 points. He represented the Penguins in the 2001 and 2002 all-star games.

After talks of a contract extension reached in impasse, former Penguins general manager traded Kovalev to the Rangers midway through the 2002-03 season along with Mike Wilson, Alex Kovalev, Janne Laukkanen and Dan LaCouture midway through the season in exchange for Joel Bouchard, Richard Lintner and Rico Fata and Mikael Samuelsson.

Since then, Kovalev, who turns 38 today, has spent time with the Rangers, Canadiens and Senators. This season, he has publicly feuded with coach Cory Clouston as the Senators have struggled to a 20-31-9 record, worst in the Eastern Conference.

EN Says: We get the infatuation with Kovalev. He was a star here. For a brief while, he was the best player on this team. And he was fond of Pittsburgh, the city.

But that was nearly a decade ago. He was a much younger player. And he had a set of linesmates in Robert Lang and Martin Straka who were perfect for him.

Kovalev is now 38 and has a lot of miles on the odometer. This is not the 29-year-old who dazzled us a decade ago. And the Penguins are completely different franchise than the one he left in 2003.

And even under the best of circumstances, Kovalev is an inconsistent player. It's been that way since he debuted with the Rangers in the 1990s. He has talent second-to-none, but he takes long stretches of games off. That's why he was run out of New York (twice), Montreal and Ottawa.

Additionally, does his style fit this team and how Dan Bylsma want it to play. This is a team which mucks, grinds, forechecks and pretty much tries to batter you into submission along the boards. That not exactly Alex Kovalev's game.

That said, in a conversation following last night's loss to the Sharks, a much brighter hockey mind than us suggested the Penguins win that game if Kovalev is in the lineup. He has that ability to just score a goal on his own. As well as others such as Tyler Kennedy or Craig Adams are playing in face of mounting injuries, the Penguins don't have anyone in the current (healthy) lineup who can do that. They could have won Sunday's game in Chicago as well. Alex Kovalev in a shootout? We'll take that any day.

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Kovalev should pay off immediately with the team's struggling power play. This until wasn't playing very well even before the massive injuries. But watching an all-star like Kris Letang trying to run the power play with less than ideal talent has become brutal. with Alex Goligoski being traded Monday, the Penguins need another player who can at the very least gain the offensive zone. And there's no one better than Kovalev at that.

Immediately, one would assume Kovalev would be teamed with Sidney Crosby when and if he returns from his concussion. We're not sure that would work. Both like to possess the puck and create. And there's only one puck on the ice. Kovalev might be better suited playing with Jordan Staal.

Regardless, Kovalev has a unique skill set no one on the current roster can claim. He immediately upgrades the talent level on a team ravaged by injuries, especially up front.

(Photos: First-Peter Diana/Post-Gazette; Second-Dale MacMillan/Getty Images; Third-Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

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