AXS Sports is in the process of profiling 25 Los Angeles Kings players and coaches prior to the 2018-19 season. In the ninth part of the series, it is time to profile Kings left winger Ilya Kovalchuk.
Signed to a three-year contract worth $18.75 million on June 23, Kovalchuk is returning to the National Hockey League after playing the last five years for St. Petersburg SKA in the Kontinental Hockey League. In 2017-18, he had 31 goals and 32 assists for 63 points in 53 games. Last season, Kovalchuk also had significant international success as he won the gold medal for Russia at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
Kovalchuk was selected first overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He would spend eight seasons in Atlanta and won the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals in the regular season with 41 in 2003-04. He would then go on to play four seasons with the New Jersey Devils from 2009-2013 before heading to Russia.
Kovalchuk has averaged one point per game in his NHL career. He has 417 goals and 399 assists for 816 points in 816 regular season games. One area that has always been a weakness for Kovalchuk, however, has been his defensive zone coverage. He is a -116 in his NHL career. Kovalchuk has played in three NHL all-star games and was on the NHL's first all-star team in 2011-12.
Kovalchuk is 35 years old. He shoots right, is 6'3" and 230 pounds.