Posted - 03/02/2013 : 19:48:18 Kovalchuk has always been a productive player, and one key to his success are his playing minutes.
He usually leads the league in playing minutes (for a forward), and this season is no different.
In looking at the league leaders (including defensemen) in average minutes per game, Kovalchuk is in the top ten (at 26:00 minutes) and you have to go all the way to the 60th position to find another forward. (Stamkos who is averaging around 22 minutes of ice time per game so far this season.)
Kovalchuk is a horse, and oftentimes plays the full two minutes on his team's power play. (He leads the league in power play minutes per game this season.)
Some may say he floats a bit some shifts, but I would take him on my team any day! At 6'3" and 230 pounds, he's one of the strongest players with the puck. And with over 400 goals before his 30th birthday, there are few players in his category as a goal scorer.
He has few man games lost due to injuries, and he's a point a game player in his NHL career. (803 points in 800 games at present.)
His career plus/minus stats are not good though (-109 in his career to date), but he did play for the Thrashers in his early years, not a great team during his time there.
You don't hear a lot about Kovalchuk, but just go back to last year's Stanley Cup Finals to get an idea of his value. He was only one point behind Brown and Kopitar for the playoff points lead (with 19 playoff points), four more than Zach Parise, who got a bit more attention. (In part, due to the fact Parise was about to become a highly coveted UFA.)
In 2010, Kovalchuk hit a home run, with a $100 million 15-year deal with the Devils, so as much as I think he's a great player, I'm not about to describe him as being underpaid!