Last week on the first day of free agency, it was widely reported that the Montreal Canadiens had made Alexei Kovalev a 2 year offer, and that he had accepted.
Apparently that was not the case. Kovalev, according to Canadiens GM Bob Gainey, took too long to accept the deal, and the Habs went in a different direction, signing Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalieri.
Kovalev spent five up-and-down seasons in Montreal after being acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers for Josef Balej and a second round draft pick. He enjoyed his best season with the Habs in 2007-08 when he scored 35 goals, added 49 assists, was named a Second team NHL All-Star and helped lead the team to their first division title since the 1992-93 season.
Kovalev, like many of his Canadiens teammates, struggled under the weight of expectations during the Canadiens 100th anniversary campaign this past year. The low point for Kovalev came in March following the All-Star break when Gainey told him to take some time away from the team in order to "clear his head." Many speculated that Kovalev had played his last game for Montreal. He did return after missing two games and finished the season with 26 goals and 39 assists.
In 1151 career games, Kovalev has 394 and 547 asssists and twice played in the NHL All-Star game, being named the game's MVP this past year in Montreal.
Should the Rangers take a run at "Kovalev Three"?