ADDED 10:45AM Feb 25, 2011 by phjoshua
[Image: phjoshua]
Categories: Hockey

So Alexei Kovalev is once again a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. A lot of people saw this one coming. I know that there were talks of him going to Montreal, but let’s be honest, that was never going to happen. Pittsburgh was always going to be the fit for Kovy.

And you know what, I don’t think it’s that bad of a move. The Penguins gave up a conditional 7th round pick (that becomes a 6th round pick if they win a playoff round) for a guy who has 21 points in his last 22 playoff games. That’s not a bad price to pay. It’s well documented that Kovalev can be flakey. He can be a floater and he can be very ineffective when he’s not motivated or feeling like he wants to try. But it’s also well documented that this guy is still one of the most skilled players in the NHL. If/ when he decides that he wants to make a difference in Pittsburgh he could carry the team on his shoulders.

The major question right now becomes who is going to pass him the puck? The Pens are painfully thin in the middle of the ice with centers Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Mark Letestu, Dustin Jeffrey and Mike Comrie all on the shelf with injuries. Letestu may be back soon, but he’s not an elite NHL center. Dustin Jeffrey is also on his way back, but that’s the same situation as Letestu. The man that Alexei Kovalev really, really needs is Sidney Crosby.

If Sid is able to recover from his post-concussion symptoms and return to the line-up I think we may see his production pick up exactly where it left off with Kovalev on his wing. For years we’ve been waiting for a true elite winger to skate alongside Sid the Kid and score beauty goals for him. This trade has the potential of making that happen. A top line of Sidney Crosby, Alexei Kovalev and maybe James Neal could do some damage.

It’s also important to remember that some of Kovalev’s biggest personal successes came in Pittsburgh. Management is clearly hoping that the memories of days gone by will help to motivate the enigmatic forward and put a jump in his step. I do to. Because when this guy is on his game and trying he is a beautiful thing to watch on the ice.

I don’t think that this is Pittsburgh’s year. They are too hurt and not deep enough. But if Alexei Kovalev decides to give a damn it could be fun to watch the Pens play their last 20 games in the regular season and however many they can get to in the playoffs.