Canadiens sign free-agent Kovalchuk to 1-year contract

MONTREAL (AP) — The Montreal Canadiens signed free-agent forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a one-year contract on Friday to offset several injuries.

The struggling NHL club agreed to a two-way deal worth $700,000 at the NHL level and $70,000 in the AHL.

Kovalchuk had nine points (3 goals, 6 assists) and 12 penalty minutes over 17 games this season with the Los Angeles Kings, who placed him on waivers last month. His last game was on Nov. 9 against his new team at the Bell Centre.

General manager Marc Bergevin said at the club’s practice facility that he did his due diligence on the NHL’s first overall pick from 2001. Current Canadiens forward Nate Thompson played with Kovalchuk in Los Angeles. The club’s assistant general manager Scott Mellanby did so in Atlanta, which used the top selection on Kovalchuk.

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