The last time we saw Alex Kovalev in the NHL he was struggling through a late-season run with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2011. The Penguins acquired him at the trade deadline in an effort to boost an offense that was crushed by injuries after losing its two best players, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, for the remainder of the season.
It was clear very early on that Kovalev at that time was a shell of his former self.
After spending last season in the KHL playing for Atlant Mytishchi (he recorded just one goal and five assists in 22 games) the 39-year-old forward is still looking to give the NHL one more shot.
Kovalev told TVA Sports this week that he's looking to a return to the NHL this season (assuming it's played) and has already had a couple of offers for tryout contracts.
"I've received invitations to training camps and hopefully can begin skating towards the end of August to be ready for next season," Kovalev told TVA, via TSN.
Kovalev was always one of the most underappreciated players of his era, and he always seemed to be the guy that was (unfairly) labeled as the "enigmatic Russian." I think sometimes people forget just how talented and productive he really was. His skill was always off the charts, he produced, and he was a Stanley Cup champion while playing a big role on the 1994 Rangers team. He recorded 21 points in 23 playoff games that season ... as a 20-year-old.
Still, his last NHL appearance was not exactly a great one (34 points in 74 games split between Ottawa and Pittsburgh) and he has not only spent a year away from the NHL, he's also going to turn 40 this February. That's not exactly a great recipe for success at this point.
There isn't in any harm in giving a player like Kovalev a camp tryout, and you can't blame the guy for trying, but it all goes back to wondering what he still has left in the tank.
Based on what we saw from him two years ago: not much.