Columbus Blue Jackets: Kovalchuk or No-valchuk?

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 25: Gold medal winner Ilya Kovalchuk
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 25: Gold medal winner Ilya Kovalchuk /

The Columbus Blue Jackets are annually brought up with winger Ilya Kovalchuk as a potential landing spot as he’s set to return to the NHL. Should it be Kovalchuk or No-valchuk for Columbus?

The Columbus Blue Jackets biggest issue in the past has seemingly been goal scoring, however now they’ve reached a point where it’s not much of a problem; thanks to new acquisitions Artemi Panarin and Thomas Vanek. Ilya Kovalchuk has been a name who’s been mentioned in the same breath as the Blue Jackets for the past few years; however he may no longer be a fit.

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Depending on if Columbus can resign Vanek, he may be a more desirable player to keep than to add Kovalchuk. But because of the salary cap it will be nearly impossible to have both.

Kovalchuk’s contract will likely be the deal-breaker as he’ll probably want a two or three year deal around $3-4M, which would be a steal for a player of his skill level if he had already proven he can still produce at the NHL level. However as of now, there’s no guarantee you’ll be getting the same Kovalchuk who went to Russia a few years ago.

Vanek on the other hand has already proven he can produce at the NHL level. He fits in well with the Blue Jackets system, especially with Boone Jenner, and will likely have a much smaller contract.

If the Columbus Blue Jackets are unable to re-sign Vanek, then Ilya Kovalchuk becomes a good backup plan; however faced with the choice of those two Vanek is the safer option for them to sign.

If Jarmo Kekalainen can somehow figure out a deal to sign both Kovalchuk and Vanek for the Columbus Blue Jackets without hurting the future negotiations for players like Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky; then he should undoubtedly do it. However it is much easier said than done.