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Red-hot Kovalev unconcerned with trade speculation

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TSN.ca Staff
2/15/2011 8:07:53 PM
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While very little has worked out in Alex Kovalev's favour since signing a two-year, $10 million deal prior to the 2009-10 season, the enigmatic Russian has been stellar of late and has recently heard his name bandied about in trade discussions.

For Kovalev, the increased attention is simply business as usual.

"I've been around for a long time and I've been traded a few times," Kovalev told reporters following Tuesday's morning skate. "It's not new for me. For me it's either staying here or going to another team but the job is still the same, being a hockey player, being the best that you can be and help the team that you are playing for."

The team that he will be playing for remains to be seen, however there have been several online reports that speculate the Penguins could have interest in bringing Kovalev back into the fold.

While Kovalev says he does not necessarily want to go anywhere, he admits that there is often a benefit to a change of scenery.

"A lot of guys who have been around this team for a long time, they don't want to go anywhere, but sometimes it's better to have some change and, particularly for young guys, to start their career fresh," he said. 
 
Until recently the misfiring sniper has struggled with his play on the ice with just 31 goals in 127 games in a Senators sweater. Kovalev has also battled injury issues, having undergone surgery to repair a torn ACL in his knee.

He has also been the target of boo-birds at Scotiabank Place who have been less than thrilled with the return on the $10 million investment that Sens management made in him.

However as of late Kovalev has turned some of those boos into cheers as he is enjoying his most productive stint as a Senator with eight points in his last six games.  He also enjoyed perhaps his best game in two seasons this past Saturday as he had two goals and an assist in a win over the Oilers that helped the Sens snap an 11-game losing streak.

His recent hot play, paired with the recent departure of veteran Mike Fisher, has started the rumour mill churning with speculation that Kovalev could be the next ex-Senator headed out of the Nation's Capital prior to the Feb. 28 NHL trade deadline.

Kovalev said that the team's poor play this season meant that changes are inevitable.

"We're not the same team as we were last year and we didn't play as well as we did last year," said Kovalev. "Everybody knows that some movement and changes are going to be made."

Kovalev credits consistency with his linemates as key to his resurgence.

"I've been playing with Peter (Regin) for awhile now and it definitely makes it easier to find the solution in being a successful line. Peter's a smart guy and he showed last year how well he can play."

Regin, who is also enjoying his best stretch of play this season, feels as though Kovalev has been unfairly maligned for what many view as a lackadaisical attitude towards his own mediocre play.

"I think that he's misunderstood in the media sometimes," said Regin. "He does care a lot. He wants to win, he wants his teammates to play good and feel good."

Considering how bad things got for the Sens during their recent lengthy losing streak, the team has to be feeling good about themselves as they head into action Tuesday against the equally struggling Islanders.

With the Trade Deadline less than two weeks away, the Sens would love to to see Kovalev's recent success continue, if either for their own benefit on the ice or to increase his trade value.

If the next two weeks are in fact going to be Alex Kovalev's swan song in Ottawa, then he will be going out on a high note.

Alex Kovalev (Photo: Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
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