Ilya Kovalchuk To Bruins? Bruce Cassidy Sounds Pretty Open To Idea

Ilya Kovalchuk wearing a Boston Bruins sweater next season seems like a very real possibility.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney went on record this week saying the team has talked with the Russian winger’s representatives and that the interest is real. Now, head coach Bruce Cassidy already is considering what — if any — lineup decisions the B’s might need to make if they sign Kovalchuk.

“If he’s in the mix, he plays a lot of left wing, so then what?” Cassidy told The Athletic. “If he wants to stay on the left side, then there are conversations if he would move to the right if he signs. Those are all ifs. If he (does sign) and he’s playing the right side it’s a great problem to have, to have two No. 1 right wingers. I don’t think you can go wrong with whatever you decide.”

The Bruins figure to have a solid top six regardless of what happens with Kovalchuk. At 35 and having spent the last five years playing in Russia, it’s hard to imagine Kovalchuk coming back as the same player he was when he left. He did, however, score 63 goals in 113 games over his last two seasons in the KHL — for what that’s worth.

But signing Kovalchuk could allow Boston to let unrestricted free agent Rick Nash walk this summer. If that happened, Kovalchuk likely would just slide into the Bruins’ second line alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

Or maybe Kovalchuck ends up on the first line. Cassidy admitted the Bruins would consider breaking up the first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak if they felt it was the right move.

“There are two options: (Pastrnak’s) either staying on that top line, depending on what becomes available for Krejci and DeBrusk if we leave them together, which I don’t see any reason not to right now,” Cassidy told The Athletic. “The other option is dropping Pasta down and moving someone else up with Bergy and Marchy. Could that be someone through free agency, and I include Rick Nash in that, or is that internal? Maybe Danton Heinen is ready to go up there, and we use our resources for the third-line center if Riley Nash leaves. There are a lot of ifs, right?”

Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images

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