Welcome back, Alex Kovalev. The Penguins acquired the Russian winger for a conditional seventh-round draft pick Thursday. (The pick could turn into a sixth rounder if the Pens advance past the first round of the playoffs and Kovalev plays in half the first-round games.) This is a low-risk, high-reward scenario for the Pens. They’ve given up practically nothing for the vet, who adds skill to an offensive unit that is suddenly in desperate need of just that. The Pens recent goal-scoring woes have been documented, and that’s exactly what Kovalev brings – goal-scoring ability.
Yes, he’s old (38), and his production (14 goals in 54 games) certainly isn’t what it used to be. But the Pens will give Kovalev a chance to rediscover his scoring touch, and he’ll get an opportunity to help the team’s suddenly anemic power play. Look at it this way: Kovalev is currently tied for second on the team in goals among healthy players and tied for fifth overall.
Pens fans know Kovalev well – he played parts of five seasons here in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s. Those days are long gone, but here’s hoping Kovalev has at least some offensive brilliance left. If he doesn’t, which is a distinct possibility, the Pens didn’t lose much, if anything to get him. And if he does prove to be washed up, they can afford to bench him. But at this point in the Pens season, Kovalev is a risk well worth taking.