PITTSBURGH – GM Ray Shero and the Pittsburgh Penguins continued to beef up their offense Thursday afternoon when they acquired soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Alexei Kovalev from the Ottawa Senators for a conditional seventh round pick in the 2011 draft.
From the Senators’ perspective, the trade amounts to a salary dump as Kovalev is in the final year of his $5m contract and the team continues their full rebuild. Kovalev will be eligible for free agency on July 1.
Ottawa claimed Marek Svatos from Nashville off waivers at noon today which likely paved the way for the team to move the veteran sniper.
The Penguins are now responsible for the $1,209,677 that’s left on Kovalev’s deal and still have cap space to make another acquisition before Monday’s trade deadline at 3pm ET.
The Penguins possessed an extra seventh-round pick as a result of a trade with San Jose that swapped seventh-rounders at the 2010 draft.
According to the team, “the pick will become a sixth-round selection if the Penguins win the first round of the playoffs and [Kovalev] plays at least 50 percent of the games in the first round.”
The deal demonstrates that GM Shero is not content with chalking the 2010-11 season up as a loss despite an unbelievable stretch of injuries. Shero told the crew at NHL Live yesterday:
“I would like to add another forward if possible, but it depends on what is going to be available and the price is going to be,” Shero said. “This year I’m not into trading our first-round draft pick or something like that. That might take me out of some things, but if there is a right player, a rental, that makes sense for us [I’ll be interested].”
Alexei Kovalev turned 38-years-old today and returns to the city where he had some of his finest seasons as a pro a decade ago.
He scored 44 goals and 95 points in the 2000-01 season and his presence will be felt immediately on a Penguins powerplay that’s without superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Kovalev could even find himself on the point in man-advantage situations, a position where he made a name for himself in his first stint with Pittsburgh.
His free-wheeling perimeter style doesn’t mesh well with the blue-collar forechecking system that Dan Bylsma deploys, but the low conditional pick sent to Ottawa essentially amounts to a risk-free pickup.
The Penguins also received bad news Thursday morning when they found out defenseman Brooks Orpik will be out four weeks with a broken finger. He suffered the injury blocking a shot in last night’s overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks.
Shero says the team expects Orpik back before the end of the season, but after sending Alex Goligoski to Dallas earlier in the week the Penguins will likely turn their attention to acquiring another defenseman in the coming days.