Lafleur: “I have the conviction that Kovalev is more useful to the Canadiens than the captain, especially if (Kovalev) continues to play as he did this year.”
Here is the full blog entry at Habs Inside/Out.
Assuming the Habs decide between one of these two players next off-season, I cannot say that I agree with Lafleur in this instance. While the article notes that both of these players are entering the final seasons of their respective contracts, there are a number of issues to take into consideration. First, is Kovalev’s motivation level. The talented winger earned his $4.5 million salary this past season but prior to that he was overpaid. Additionally, Kovalev will be 35 by the time these negotiations come around. So factor in motivation and age as two major issues to consider. As for Koivu, durability was a problem earlier in his career, however, the rugged center has not missed more than fourteen games in any of the past five NHL seasons. Additionally, he is a terrific playoff player and a leader in the dressing room. If it were up to me, I’d give my money to the 33 year old Koivu before the 35 year old Kovalev.