Florida has long been known as the tropical destination where the old and tired flock to to spend their twilight years – former NHL star Alexei Kovalev is hoping it will be his last stop before retirement.
Coming off a failed trip to the KHL, the 39 year-old Kovalev will attend the upcoming Florida Panthers training camp in hopes of making an NHL squad one last time before riding off into the sunset.
When asked about a return to the NHL for the 2012-2013 season, Kovalev told the Montreal Gazette that a return to a familiar environment like the Canadians – whom Kovalev played for from 2005-2009 – would be an ideal landing spot for him to spend his final years.
“And I’d definitely like to come back to Montreal. They’re all about the young guys, but I can help in all different ways. And I can still play. I have a lot of energy.”
While playing for Atlant Moscow Oblast of the KHL during the 2011-2012 season, Kovalev was only able to amass 6 points (1G 5A) through 22 games as he battled through a reported knee injury.
Kovalev’s last respectable season came in 2008-2009 when he totaled 65 points (23G 42A) while playing for the Montreal Canadians. Since then Kovalev has struggled to put up scoring numbers and has the word lazy associated with his name more than once in recent years.
After taking chances on questionable players like Tomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg last year, Kovalev could end up being the next diamond in the ruff for GM Dale Tallon as he looks to set the Panthers up for another Southeast Division title. Kovalev’s scoring ability could be of benefit to the Panthers who struggled offensively last season and lacked creative scoring both in regulation and shootouts.
Kovalev will have to beat out current players like Jack Skille, Mike Santorelli and other would-be Panthers if he hopes to make this year’s roster. At 39 expectations will be low for Kovalev as GM Dale Tallon takes a low risk chance on a once formidable NHL scorer.