A Month of Gratitude: Ilya Kovalchuk

The Russian goal-scorer picked the Kings as his landing spot in his return to the NHL.

A season like this is tough to watch, and we all find ourselves being pretty hard on the Los Angeles Kings as they struggle to right the ship. For the rest of November, we’ll be taking some time each day to share why we’re thankful for each player on the team (and some Kings of years past). If you’d like to share your love for a Kings player, past or present, check out our call for submissions.

Today, we’ll spend some time with the Kings leading scorer…

Ilya Kovalchuk

After winning Olympic gold, the next big thing for Ilya Kovalchuk was a return to the NHL. He’d made no secret about his desire to come back, and it was only a matter of time until he chose a team.

And as we all settled in on draft day, the news broke: Kovalchuk was going to the Kings. Surprise!

While his contract was immediately a subject of pro and con lists and endless discussions online, Kovalchuk had shown that he could still contribute at an elite level in the KHL. What could he bring to us in his second stint in the NHL?

Well, he’s currently the Kings’ leading scorer. On a team starved for offense, he’s provided it. Anze Kopitar’s empty net goal last night gave him back the lead for goals, but Kovalchuk leads in points overall.

Now that Kovalchuk has started to have consistent linemates and a little more stability on ice, he’s had some nice stretches of production. He’s put up some timely goals and has shown that he’s still got the hands and skill with the puck that everyone hoped for.

So today, we’re thankful for Ilya Kovalchuk for taking a chance on the Kings, for scoring some sweet goals already, and for even more goals to come.

Previously in our “Month” of Gratitude series: Kyle Clifford | Nate Thompson | Mike Amadio | Paul LaDue | Jake Muzzin | Alec Martinez | Peter Budaj | Cal Petersen