UPDATE (11 AM): Okay, maybe not!
Kovalchuk also said, when asked what the decision came down to between the Capitals and Bruins, that “I think you have the wrong teams.”— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) February 24, 2020
While Montreal agreed to retain half of Kovalchuk's salary, it's still a good move for them: they signed Kovalchuk for the league minimum a few weeks ago, and turned him into a draft pick. Not bad!
However, there's some intrigue: it appears that the Bruins were involved as well.
"Choice" here is interesting, because as far as I can tell, Kovalchuk doesn't have any kind of NMC/NTC.
If he didn't have those clauses, it's likely that the Canadiens went to him as a courtesy and said something along the lines of "we have two equal deals, you can choose where you want to go."
He chose Washington, where he can play with fellow Russian goal-scorer Alexander Ovechkin.
He probably saved Don Sweeney from himself, as dealing an asset for Kovalchuk would have been borderline insane; after all, the Bruins, like every other NHL team, had a chance to sign him for nothing earlier this winter.
Anyways, the Bruins miss out on a cheap wing, but if the report is to be believed, the B's appear to be continuing to look for more forward help after acquiring Ondrej Kase.