The facts are, Kovalchuk just turned 27 years old and is one of the elite goal scorers in the NHL. Indeed, over his first eight seasons, Kovie is one of the elite goal scorers of all-time.
Over his eight full seasons, Kovalchuk has tallied 338 goals or an average of 42.25 per season.
This is the 13th highest total for goals in a player's first eight years in NHL history. The top five are:
Wayne Gretzky 543
Mike Bossy 474
Brett Hull 413
Mario Lemieux 408
11 of the top 13 players on this list accumulated their totals in the late 197o's or early 1980's. Only Kovalchuk and Teemu Selanne started their careers in the lower scoring 1990's and 2000's. Once again, the Goals Adjusted tool comes in handy in order to compare eras. When Kovalchuk and Selanne's scoring is adjusted to a neutral era they rise to near the top of the list.
Here are the top ten most Adjusted Goals over the first eight seasons of an NHL career:
Wayne Gretzky 465
Brett Hull 426
Mike Bossy 410
Ilya Kovalchuk 395
Teemu Selanne 395
Mario Lemieux 375
Luc Robitaille 368
Jari Kurri 343
Guy Lafleur 335
Rick Martin 316
Pretty heady company for Kovie, in an adjusted and neutral scoring era Kovalchuk has averaged almost 50 goals per season. Of course, his countryman Alex Ovechkin has scored 305 Adjusted Goals over his first five seasons...an average of over 60 per year! His total in five years almost makes the above top ten through eight seasons. Ovechkin has more Adjusted Goals in his first five years than even Gretzky who had 300 over five years. That one is for another day...
So, as a 27 year old who should be right in his prime years perhaps 8 to 9 million a year is fair. Of course if he does end up back in New Jersey his goal rate will most likely drop in the tighter system. Over 27 games at the end of last season he scored 10 goals, a 30 goal pace. The one thing we can be sure of is there is a team somewhere in the world that will give Kovalchuk over 8 million a year.