Age is just a number as far as Ilya Kovalchuk is concerned.
The newest member of the Los Angeles Kings was on hand to speak to reporters on Saturday and said he still expects to play at an elite level through the duration of his contract.
"When I was making my decision, it was all about hockey because I have three or four years left in my tank where I can really play at a high level," Kovalchuk said, according to Jon Rosen of LAKingsInsider.com. "L.A. has a great group of guys. Like I said, great goaltending, great defense, and they have one of the best centers in the league. I never had a chance to play with those kinds of guys, so it's really exciting for me."
This season will mark Kovalchuk's return to the NHL after five years spent with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. The former 1st overall pick of the Atlanta Thrashers - who averaged over 40 goals per 82 games in the NHL - is confident he'll be able to produce thanks in large part to the talent surrounding him in L.A.
"The last few years I was still in the same caliber like I was, so I feel comfortable," Kovalchuk said. "Especially when you play with the guys like Kopitar, Doughty, Carter, Brown, those guys, they make it even easier to get the points and the goals. We just need to work really hard and be a good team. It doesn't matter really who's going to score."
Kovalchuk will be relied on heavily to produce offense after a season that saw the Kings finish 16th in the regular season in goals. The campaign concluded with a first-round sweep to the Vegas Golden Knights after the team managed a mere three goals. Adding the KHL's reigning points leader should help address that.