Is rated 1st among European prospects on Central Scouting's final ranking, was rated 1st at mid-season ... performed for Russia in the 2001 World Junior Championship in Moscow ... finished second in team scoring, 14th in the tournament with six points (4-2-6 in 7GP) ... led the Russian under-18 team to a Gold Medal in the 2001 Under-18 World Championship, leading the tournament in scoring (11-4-15 in 6GP) ... helped Spartak finish in first place in the Russian Division I league this season ... is set to perform for Spartak in the Russian Senior league next season ... led the Russian under-18 team to a Gold Medal at the 2000 Five Nations Cup in Salt Lake City with seven points (4-3-7in 4GP), including a goal and an assist in the Gold Medal game ... helped Russia to a Silver Medal in the 2000 Under-18 World Championships (2-3-5 in 6GP) ... captured a Gold Medal with Russia in the under-17 2000 World Hockey Challenge in Timmins, earning Best Forward honors ... was named Best Forward at the 2000 Under-20 Five Nations tournament in Omsk (4-2-6 in 4GP) ... wears the #17 in honor of the late Soviet hockey star Valeri Kharlamov, who performed for the Soviet Union in the 1972 Summit Series ... selected by Cape Breton in the 2000 CHL Import Draft (10th overall).
Central Scouting Report
An excellent skater with impressive speed, quickness and acceleration ... a big, strong player with a mean streak who plays a tough, aggressive style of game ... has outstanding puckhandling skills and scoring ability ... a very good playmaker with solid passing skills ... an offensive threat every time he is on the ice and is used in all game situations ... has excellent hockey sense and solid understanding of the game ... a very colorful and confident player with impressive overall skills ... has the ability to control the game ... has shown the potential to be a franchise player.
"Kovalchuk's stick has made it all the way to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, after he had been declared the best player of the 17-year olds' championships in Canada. Kovalchuk is being compared to Maxim Afinogenov and Sergei Samsonov, but some go so far as to suggest that Kovalchuk is at least as good as Pavel Bure was when he was the same age." - Marina Joukova, Face-off.com, Dec. 18, 2000
"Ilja has all the physical and technical (skill) qualities to become a top class player and he's a strong character. Kovalchuk leads any team he's on and never gives up." - Evgeni Zimin, former Soviet player and Russian Commentator, Dec. 30, 2000
"He has all the tools in his arsenal; excellent skating with
Bure-like speed, a very creative playmaker with strong puckhandling skills...He garnered the attention of many hockey observers and analysts who constantly kept saying, 'He can become the all-time leading Russian-born scorer if this young gifted offensive player makes the most of his skills." - Denis
Neznanov, HockeyZone, Sept. 10, 2000