According to Pierre LeBrun, Ilya Kovalchuk has the desire to return to the NHL next season after spending the last few years in the KHL. He had officially retired from the NHL and left the Devils after the 2013 season to go to the KHL. New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero talked to Kovalchuk’s agent Jay Grossman who confirmed that Kovalchuk wants to play in the NHL this upcoming season.
Devils GM Ray Shero says he has confirmed with agent Jay Grossman that Ilya Kovalchuk definitely wants to return to the NHL next season
Report: Ilya Kovalchuk Wants to Return to the NHL Next Season
Kovalchuk likely will not be back in New Jersey as he will likely want to go to a contender and chase a Stanley Cup since he’s in his mid-thirties. Kovalchuk’s agent is allowed to speak to other teams about a deal and if a deal makes sense from New Jersey’s side, they’ll sign Kovalchuk and then trade him to that team. Kovalchuk will not be able to sign with a team until July 1st which is when free agency opens so there will be plenty of time for a deal to be agreed upon. Unless he first signs with New Jersey before a trade, he can’t be taken off the NHL’s Voluntary Retirement List. TSN insider Bob McKenzie outlined the full terms a few weeks ago:
1. Kovalchuk remains property of NJD as he is on the Voluntary Retirement List (VRL) so he is free to sign with them for coming season.
2. If Kovalchuk doesn’t want to return to NJ, he could sign with ANY team as long as EVERY other team in NHL signs off on it. Not a chance.
3a. Because Kovalchuk is on VRL, NJ can’t trade his rights to any team unless Kovalchuk signs with NJ first. So sign and trade possible.
Kovalchuk will not be a factor for the expansion draft this summer with Las Vegas as he’s not eligible to be taken or protected by it and no 2017 picks are in play when a team is trying to trade for him. Despite being 34, Kovalchuk would be a big get for any team as he had 32 goals and 78 points last year for St. Petersburg as they won the Gagarin Cup. Overall for his NHL career, he has 417 goals and 816 points in 816 games, taken first overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2001.
Over the last four seasons in Russia, he’s scored 89 goals and added 222 points in 209 games for SKA St. Petersburg, where he played with now-Vegas Golden Knight Vadim Shipachyov and former Detroit Red Wings legend Pavel Datsyuk.