I don't think he's "lazy" exactly... he works hard, trains hard... it's just, well, if he's not on the right wavelength with the coach or his teammates or whatever, he can sometimes look out of synch enough that sometimes you're left wondering what the heck he's doing. I think he's dedicated and always wants to try hard and compete hard... just that he has his own idea of how to play his game.
Of course, he can still be quasi-effective despite that... he's big, he can hold the puck in traffic, he can really put some caution into opposing defenses, especially on the PP. He'll get his points and chances no matter how he's interfacing with the team system.
This year, I think the big unknown for the fans in Kovalev's sub-par season is what his health status has been throughout the season. We know he has a chronic knee problem... we don't know how much or if that affected him seriously. We know he played at least a month with a bad elbow that he subsequently decided was just too bad to keep playing through, and he was out for 10 or so games. He had a scare with vertigo after the flu. All that has the potential to add up to a good bit of the difference between an abysmal-seeming 47-pt season and the 60-70 he is probably more typically capable of. He probably led the league in goalposts hit.
Anyway, I don't think the Habs will trade him or look to trade him. Us fans are frustrated and trying to dump him off, but really, I don't see Bob Gainey doing it. He doesn't exactly have a lot of firepower to turn to, and unless he really thinks he can lure any big-name UFAs to Montreal this summer, he doesn't really have any salary problems that would necessitate moving Kovalev's $4.5M. Not much incentive to move him for an NHL GM. (Which is a stark contrast to us armchair amateurs).
Kovalev does not fill either of the Caps three main needs.
#1. A top pair defenseman. either with top defense first skills or with good offensive production.
#2. a quality veteran 3-4 defenseman that fills the needs that #1 does not.
#3. a quality veteran center to play next to Ovechkin and on the first power play unit.
All the other comments about Kovalev are really only relivant if he were a player that filled one of the Caps major holes. He does not and so the conversation ends there.
Actually I think Kovalev fills a main need: power play point that shoots left. I would put that has one of the top 3 needs for the Caps (the other 2 being a center and a top defenseman that has offense and defense skills) Kovalev has a great shot and the offensive skills that would improve the power play. However I don't know his contract and I don't really think it would fit the budget for what the Caps are looking to spend on a power play specialist.
If he was 30 and not 34 (leaning towards 35), I would pull the trigger in a heartbeat. But simply because of the age factor, I would pass. This team needs core players who will be here for the next 4-8 years if we really want to be a perennial contender.
Kovalev makes $4.5 million in 2007-08 and again in 2008-09. Suffice it to say, that's not a contract that Montreal is going to be dealing to Washington.
This player doesn't begin to provide the consistent level of high-caliber play that the Caps would need to get out a guy to give him that much money. They will pay a guy upwards of $5 million, but the right guy. Tops on their list will be consistency and work ethic.