Montreal Canadiens Trade Rumour: Ilya Kovalchuk Price Tag Higher Than Originally Anticipated

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 08: Ilya Kovalchuk Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 08: Ilya Kovalchuk Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens started to sell pieces yesterday when they traded Marco Scandella. The next player out the door could be Ilya Kovalchuk and the asking price has increased.

The Montreal Canadiens appear to be accepting their role as sellers as the trade deadline approaches. Teams have until Monday evening to make any additions to their roster that can be eligible for the postseason.

Normally we see teams that are not going to make the playoffs offering up their pending free agents for draft picks and prospects. It is not usually the time of year big blockbuster trades get done, but we see teams with little hope for the postseason sell off assets that will likely leave town in the summer anyway.

The Canadiens started their sales job yesterday when they sent Marco Scandella to the St. Louis Blues for a second round pick and a conditional fourth round pick. The 2021 fourth round pick will be sent to Montreal if the Blues re-sign Scandella or win two playoff rounds this spring.

More from Rumors

The Canadiens have a few more free agents who probably packed a few extra pairs of underwear for the teams current road trip. Nate Thompson could be traded any day now and there has been a lot of debate lately about whether or not the Habs should deal Ilya Kovalchuk or try to re-sign him.

According to the TSN Insiders on Insider Trading last night, the Habs have upped their price tag on Kovalchuk after seeing a few trades around the league in the past few days. Darren Dreger mentioned that Bergevin could be looking for a “second round pick plus.” That plus could be a substantial piece if you look at recent trades.

Jason Zucker was the first player to move that got a king’s ransom in return. The Minnesota Wild sent Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a first round pick, Calen Addison and Alex Galchenyuk.

The New Jersey Devils jumped into the sellers market when they shipped Blake Coleman to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Nolan Foote and a first round pick. Coleman had 21 goals and 31 points in 54 games for the Devils before being dealt.

The one trade that must have really opened Marc Bergevin‘s eyes to what he could get in return for Kovalchuk was the Tyler Toffoli deal. The Los Angeles Kings sent Toffoli to the Vancouver Canucks for a second round pick, Tyler Madden and Tim Schaller.

Madden was a third round pick in 2018, and is one of the top scorers in college hockey right now for Northeastern. He has 19 goals and 37 points in 27 games and was one of the Canucks top prospects. Schaller was tossed into the deal to make the salaries work.

If you look at Toffoli’s numbers lately, they aren’t much better than what Kovalchuk has done. The two were teammates last season with the Kings and though Kovalchuk was widely criticized for his performance, he finished with 34 points in 64 games. Toffoli had the same number of points but it took him all 82 games to get there.

This season, Toffoli had 18 goals and 34 points in 58 games for the Kings. Even including his short spurt in Los Angeles to begin the year, Kovalchuk has 21 points in 36 games. So, Toffoli’s points per game is 0.586 and Kovalchuk’s is 0.583. So, Kovalchuk was better last year and they provide almost identical offence this year.

Seeing Toffoli get dealt for a really good prospect and a second round pick has to set the asking price for Kovalchuk. The way he has played in Montreal shows he can still contribute in a top nine role and be an asset on a team’s power play. Teams that are in playoff race and need to squeeze every point out of the last quarter of the season might want to review some of Kovalchuk’s overtime and shootout tape over the past six weeks as well.

Kovalchuk has played well since he first set foot in Montreal. There is no reason he should return much less than Toffoli in a trade, especially when you consider his $700,000 salary which will make it easy for any team to acquire him. The salary cap is one of the biggest reasons we don’t see more trades but it will not be a deterrent to a Kovalchuk trade.

Next. Habs Flip Scandella to Blues. dark

It makes sense that Bergevin will hold out until he gets a great offer for Kovalchuk. He acquired Marco Scandella midseason for a fourth round pick and just traded him for a second and a fourth. It will be interesting to see what he can get for Kovalchuk after signing him for nothing off the scrap heap. If the rumours are true, we should see a second round pick and a great prospect coming to Montreal soon.