The news Colorado Avalanche fans have waited for has finally arrived.
The sixth-round 2018 NHL Draft pick Nikolai Kovalenko has officially signed a two-year, entry-level contract to join the Avs squad. He will spend the beginning of next season continuing to play in Russia for his current team, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod.
After the KHL season concludes in February, we should expect to see Kovalenko come over from Russia to slot straight into the Avalanche lineup. Their final game is February 26, so Kovalenko could play as early as February 27 against the Dallas Stars (this seems very unlikely though due to travel and having to do paperwork, so expect a March debut for him.)
Kovalenko will be an integral piece of the Avs's bottom six to start, with hopes he’d transform into a top-six star. He's been on the rise in Russia the last few years, having a career year last season with 21 goals and 33 assists in 56 games, almost averaging a point a game.
#GoAvsGo fans unfamiliar with Nikolai Kovalenko are gonna love him.— Hockey News Hub (@HockeyNewsHub) July 25, 2023
Great hands. Lethal shot. Not afraid to get into the dirty areas. Helluva passer. A teammate's dream teammate. #TOR #KHL pic.twitter.com/4dawf9g2TN
His entry-level contract comes with a cap hit of $950,000. The hype is real around Kovalenko, and finally, Avs fans will get to see what he can do. Have they struck gold with this deep sixth-round draft pick? How will he do? Let us know in the comments below!