Bruins eyeing Kovalchuk as possible Nash replacement

Add the Boston Bruins to the list of clubs interested in Ilya Kovalchuk.

After spending the past five seasons in the KHL, the 35-year-old Russian free agent wants to return to the NHL. While he can't officially sign until July 1, Kovalchuk has already drawn interest from a number of suitors, including the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks, while the Bruins are the latest club to throw their hat into the ring.

"I've been in contact with (Kovalchuk's) group," Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told Matt Porter of the Boston Globe. "For obvious reasons - about 230 pounds and still scores goals. He is 35, so you have to factor that in, but he brings a lot to the table.

"I hope he looks at (the Bruins) and says, 'That's a team I'd be interested in.' He indicated that, but you know, until I get a chance to sit with him, I won't know that exactly."

Sweeney added that if the Bruins come to terms with Kovalchuk, it would mark the end of Rick Nash's short tenure in Boston, as the team's lineup can't accommodate both veteran wingers.

"It would have to be either/or, it can't be both," Sweeney said.

The Bruins acquired Nash from the New York Rangers at this year's trade deadline, parting with Ryan Spooner, Ryan Lindgren, Matt Beleskey, their first-round pick in the coming draft, and a seventh-rounder in 2019.

However, Nash battled injuries throughout his time with the Bruins, appearing in just 11 regular-season contests and another dozen playoff games. The 33-year-old is coming off an eight-year contract that carried a $7.8-million cap hit.

As for Kovalchuk, he signed a 15-year, $100-million deal with the New Jersey Devils in 2010, but walked away after just three seasons for the KHL, effectively terminating his contract. The Devils retained his rights up until this summer.

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