The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to grab reinforcements on offence should captain Sidney Crosby not return this season from a concussion.
In his latest move, general manager Ray Shero re-acquired right-winger Alex Kovalev from the Ottawa Senators Thursday for a seventh-round draft pick that reportedly could become a sixth-rounder should the Penguins win a playoff round and Kovalev plays at least 50 per cent of the games in the series.
Kovalev, who reportedly couldn't stomach playing for Senators head coach Cory Clouston, agreed to waive his no-movement clause while the team will get his $5 milllion US off the books. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
"I'm definitely pretty excited," Kovalev said. "I've been there before and had some good years. It's too bad that I couldn't prove myself as a good player in Ottawa. But I still had a great time here, being surrounded by a good organization and a great group of guys on the team.
"I just feel bad that we couldn't do a better job. But at the same time, I'm excited to go to Pittsburgh and play in the playoffs again."
Prior to dealing Kovalev, Ottawa GM Bryan Murray claimed right-winger Marek Svatos off waivers from Nashville. He makes $800,000 in the NHL on a two-way deal.
Kovalev, 38, had his most productive seasons as an NHLer while playing for Pittsburgh from the 1998-99 campaign to 2002-03. The Russian forward notched 44 goals and 95 points in 2000-2001.
However, Kovalev's numbers have been on the decline since his 84-point season with the Montreal Canadiens in 2007-08. He followed it up with 65 points the following campaign and dipped to 49 points in 77 games with Ottawa last year.
In Pittsburgh, Kovalev joins newcomer James Neal — acquired earlier this week along with defenceman Matt Niskanen from Dallas for blue-liner Alex Goligoski — to strengthen the Penguins on the wing with Crosby and fellow centre Evgeni Malkin (torn knee ligaments) sidelined. Malkin is out for the season.
Head coach Dan Bylsma is also without the services of forwards Chris Kunitz (lower body), Mark Letestu (knee) and Dustin Jeffrey (knee).
The defence corps suddenly is thin, with Brooks Orpik out at least four weeks with a broken finger and Paul Martin nursing an upper-body injury.
Pittsburgh, which has lost three in a row, enters play Thursday fourth in the Eastern Conference standings with a 36-20-6 record.
The Senators, who languish in 29th place in the league with a 20-31-9 mark, have been busy cleaning house and stockpiling draft picks this month.
Veterans Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly and Jarkko Ruutu were shipped to Nashville, Boston and Anaheim, respectively. Last Friday, Ottawa sent Brian Elliott to Colorado for fellow netminder Craig Anderson.
Svatos began the season in Russian's Continental Hockey League (KHL) with Avangard Omsk, with whom he notched eight points in 19 games. The 26-year-old had three points in nine games with the Predators after they claimed him off waivers from St. Louis on Dec. 29.
"He's excited. It's a good chance for him [in Ottawa]," Svatos's agent Rich Evans told the Ottawa Sun.