Kovalev wants Heatley with Senators
One-time Canadien played with disgruntled winger in Russia
Alex Kovalev has let his feelings be known on the Dany Heatley saga, less than a month into his tenure with the Ottawa Senators.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday in Ottawa, the former Montreal Canadiens right-winger said he hopes Heatley remains with the Senators for the 2009-10 season.
"Definitely, with the player that he is, it would be nice to have him back," Kovalev said.
"I know Dany a little bit from playing with him for Kazan in the lockout year. He's a great, talented guy on the ice and off the ice and would definitely help the Senators organization and hopefully will continue to help the organization."
Heatley has asked to be traded, having given Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray a list of potential teams, but earlier this month refused to waive his no-trade clause to join the Edmonton Oilers.
Heatley and Kovalev, who signed a two-year, $10-million US free-agent contract with the Senators on July 6, played in Russia together with Ak Bars Kazan during the NHL lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 NHL season.
"We can fit both of those guys on our team very nicely, maybe one on left [wing] and one on right wing," Murray said after presenting Kovalev with the No. 27 shirt during an introductory news conference at Scotiabank Place.
Kovalev said the ill will that Heatley's stance has caused in Ottawa isn't beyond repair.
Murray attempted to finalize a Heatley trade to Edmonton in time to avoid paying the left-winger a $4-million bonus due him on July 1, but the disgruntled sniper waited until the deadline had passed before nixing the proposed swap.
Asked where that leaves Heatley, Senators general manager Bryan Murray said: "Nowhere. He is an Ottawa Senator."
Heatley's salary cap hit is $7.5 million next season.
The 28-year-old has racked up 260 goals and 543 points in 507 games over seven NHL seasons since he was drafted second overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2000.
He had 39 goals and 72 points last season, but that output represented his lowest totals with Ottawa, which signed Heatley to a six-year, $45-million contract extension on Oct. 4, 2007.
Accompanied by his wife, Eugenia, Kovalev said he's looking forward to joining the Senators, a team that needs new blood after a disappointing season in 2008-09.
"Sometimes you see teams make changes and go through different players, so it's understandable [they struggle]," Kovalev said. "This team, I was surprised with the players offensively and defensively they have, that they weren't successful.
"Hopefully, I'll bring that little spark or whatever that this team is missing."
With files from The Canadian Press