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Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Edmonton Oilers expressing interest in Ilya Kovalchuk

The Edmonton Oilers have displayed an interest in two players from the Montreal Canadiens, Sportsnet’s Eric Engels reports.

First, Engels reported that the Oilers, and Calgary Flames, have expressed “varying degrees of interest” in Canadiens F Ilya Kovalchuk.

Engels also confirmed an Elliotte Friedman report that the Oilers have looked into another Canadiens F in Tomas Tatar.

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The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, however, are two teams that also have varying degrees of interest in Kovalchuk, I’ve been told. They both have the picks to swing it and they’re both cap-strapped, which means adding Kovalckuk could make more sense to them than taking on someone else at a higher salary. Sportsnet.ca.

Kovalchuk has played in 14 games with the Habs since he signed a one-year, pro-rated $700,000 contract in early January. He’s been red hot scoring five goals and another six assists in those games, all the while posting great underlying numbers at even-strength.

He’s driven play to the tune of 57.14 CF% and an expected goal share of 63.69%. Most importantly, he’s a right-shot and is playing top-six minutes at even-strength.

Kovalchuk could theoretically come into Edmonton and provide some offensive help for the Oilers, who are in dire need of a top-six player to complement Connor McDavid. While Kovalchuk may not have the wheels he once did, he would likely be able to provide more of a punch at 5v5 than that of James Neal.

Not only that, but the Russian is also a right-shot — something sorely lacking from the Oilers top-end talent. It could open up opportunities on the power-play that the team hadn’t previously had.

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While Engels noted that the Boston Bruins have a second-round pick they would be dangling and that they are “watching closely,” Edmonton would make sense should Boston cool on a deal. With his small-cap hit and Edmonton’s lack of cap space right now, Kovalchuk would fit right in money wise.

The cost of acquisition for the Oilers would likely only be draft picks.

On Twitter: @zjlaing