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Kovalenko’s Return Delayed; Avalanche Involved?



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It sure looked like Colorado Avalanche prospect Nikolai Kovalenko was establishing himself as one of the best players in the world outside the NHL with how his season started.

Then, suddenly, he was gone.

On Monday, Kovalenko missed his 7th consecutive game for Torpedo due to a wrist injury, or so it appears. The KHL might be even worse than the NHL and the Avalanche when it comes to giving out injury details, but Kovalenko has been seen around the team with his wrist heavily wrapped.

Kovalenko, who turns 24 tomorrow, was originally expected back in the lineup over this past weekend, but that didn’t happen. After the game, Torpedo head coach Igor Larionov updated everyone on the status of the forward…kind of.

Larionov said there is no return date set for Kovalenko just yet, but that they’re “communicating about Kovalenko with both our doctors and North American ones.”

That “North American” commeny can really only mean one thing – the Avalanche have likely gotten involved.

While I don’t believe Kovalenko has ever returned to skate or practice with the team, he has joined his squad in the gym, so he’s been active.

The plan is still for Kovalenko to join the Avalanche once his season is completed in the KHL, almost like a free trade deadline addition. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Avalanche are involved in his recovery, because they would want to make sure he’s healthy when he gets to North America. That could easily be one reason for the delay in his return.

I asked Jared Bednar about Kovalenko a few weeks back, and I have no doubt he would become a big fan as soon as he saw his game up close.

“I kind of know what you guys know,” Bednar said. “I’ve seen all the highlight reels, I’ve read the scouting reports, I’ve watched some of his video earlier in the summer. We’re excited about him. I would think he was probably drafted young, thinking he could be this steady, 200 foot checker but he’s developed a really nice offensive ability in the KHL. He’s being used in all situations, so a ton of ice time. One of the guys they rely on, leader, Captain-type guy, so those are the types of guys you want to be excited about, see if his game translates when he comes over here.”

Kovalenko’s hot start (13 points in 11 games) helped catapult Torpedo to the top of the standings, but since his injury, they’ve gone just 3-4, and have been shutout in 3 of those losses. They now sit in 3rd place in the ultra competitive Western Conference in the KHL.

As usual, I’ll keep everyone update on Kovalenko’s health, as he could play a role on the Avalanche down the stretch.

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