New York Rangers and the Ilya Kovalchuk potential signing

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 25: Gold medal winner Ilya Kovalchuk (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 25: Gold medal winner Ilya Kovalchuk (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Multiple reports indicate that the New York Rangers are bringing Ilya Kovalchuk back to the states after a five-year absence.

We know the New York Rangers are in a rebuild. Many of the familiar faces are gone and young faces are in their place. The team is changing their look and doing so quickly. Is it going to be a slow rebuild or a quick turnaround? There may be some evidence that the rebuild is going to go faster than one would expect, and I am not just talking about the production of the young players at season’s end.

Multiple reports are indicating that the Rangers are set to sign Ilya Kovalchuk to a contract, bringing him back to the NHL after a five-year absence. Before departing from the states, Kovalchuk spent 12 years in the NHL with the Thrashers and the Devils. He scored 417 goals and posted 399 assists in 816 career games. He led the league in power play goals in 2005-2006 with 27, and played in three All-Star games in his career.

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He was a prolific scorer. From 2003-2004, Kovalchuk posted at least 40 goals per year every year through the 2009-2010 season. The Kovalchuk name is one that will always be recognizable to hockey fans everywhere.

Nothing is confirmed yet, but if true, his age makes for an interesting talking point. Kovalchuk does turn 35 this upcoming Sunday. That doesn’t mean he has no value. It’s very much to the contrary. He will help in the short term.

First of all he will be a talented mentor. Between the states and overseas, Kovalchuk has seen a lot of wars in the game of hockey. He will be able to teach quite a bit to the young players all over the Rangers roster.

The Rangers will be getting a guy that has won a gold medal, been in the NHL playoffs multiple times and seen the playoffs in the KHL as well. That is a special mentor for the revamped Rangers roster.

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But it is also evidence that the Rangers would like to compete sooner rather than later. Kovalchuk turns 35 years old on April 15. All of us that are that age or older know that this isn’t young. He won’t be able to play forever. The Rangers will be looking for an impact from Ilya Kovalchuk in 2018-2019. It will need to happen fast.

The Rangers won’t be out of it so fast. Clearly they are still looking for impact players. They are just new ones.