Kovalev, 39, lands tryout with Panthers

How old is too old to try out for the National Hockey League?

Not 39, if you’re already a member of the league’s 400-goal club.

Forward Alexei Kovalev, who will celebrate his 40th birthday on Feb. 24, has been invited to the Florida Panthers’ shortened training camp, Nick Kypreos reported Tuesday.

Back in June, the winger informed the Montreal Gazette that he would like to play the 2012-13 season for one of his former clubs, the Montreal Canadiens being his first choice.

“Hopefully, I’ll find an NHL team,” the Russian veteran told the paper during the off-season. “The preference is always going to be a team I’ve played on because you know the environment.

“And I’d definitely like to come back to Montreal. They’re all about the young guys, but I can help in all different ways. And I can still play. I have a lot of energy.”

Although Kovalev inked a two-year contract last year to play in the KHL, he was released from that deal. Bothered by a knee injury, Kovalev played 22 games in 2011-12 for Atlant Moscow Oblast, scoring just a single goal and adding five assists.

Prior to his four full years in Montreal, where he consistently put up 70-point seasons, Kovalev played for the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. He signed as a free agent to the Ottawa Senators for 2009-10 and 2010-11, and his production declined. Kovalev was traded back to the Penguins, dressed for 20 games (scoring seven points), and played his last NHL contest in 2011.

“I always think about having left Montreal,” Kovalev said in June. “You make a mistake in life and you learn from it. I would make a different move if I could have that back.

“I’m working hard, training three times a week and keeping in shape. Hopefully, somebody will get interested.”

Sounds like that somebody is Panthers general manager Dale Tallon.

At age 39, will Alexei Kovalev make the Florida Panthers’ roster?

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