When Ilya Kovalchuk broke into the NHL in 2001-02 he instantly established himself as one of the premier goal-scorers in the league. The first overall pick in 2001 scored 29 goals and finished his rookie season with 51 points. Just two short years later, the native of Tver, Russia potted 41, which earned him a share of the Maurice Richard Trophy for most goals in a season.
While scoring seemed to come naturally to Kovalchuk, leadership has been a work in progress. But last season the Thrashers saw the speedy left winger add that intangible element to his game and in January they rewarded his growth with the captaincy.
Approaching a full year with the ‘C’ the 6-foot-1 230-pounder has excelled in his expanded role and is looking to get the Thrashers to the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history. John Grigg explores the maturation of Ilya Kovalchuk.
REPORTER: John Grigg | PRODUCER: Ted Cooper
Watch more THN.com video features HERE.