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Ilya Kovalchuk | Winger | #17

Team: New Jersey Devils
Age / DOB:  (34) / 4/15/1983
Ht / Wt:  6'2' / 230
Drafted: 2001 / Rd. 1 (1) / ATL
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Ilya Kovalchuk reportedly said on Russian television that he thinks this will be his final season with the KHL's St. Petersburg SKA.
Kovalchuk expressed a desire to return to the NHL for the 2018-19 campaign. He explored the idea of playing in the NHL next season, but it would have been complicated because the Devils still control his rights, which would have made a sign-and-trade necessary. Next summer he'll be an unrestricted free agent in the NHL so that obstacle won't exist. Additionally, by staying in the KHL for one more season he can then play in the Olympics where Russia will be a heavy favorite to win gold given that NHL players won't be able to participate. Jul 21 - 9:50 AM

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Ilya Kovalchuk cited the Olympics as a key reason for his decision to stay in the KHL.

Kovalchuk entertained the possibility of playing in the NHL, but ultimately inked a one-year extension with the KHL's St. Petersburg SKA. "One of the main factors was the upcoming Olympic Games," Kovalchuk said. "In 2018, only players who play in European championships and the KHL can compete there." The NHL made the decision not to allow its players to participate in the 2018 Winter Games. Waiting at least another year before attempting to return to North America also makes some sense for him logistically. In the summer of 2018 he'll be an unrestricted free agent in North America, but the Devils still control his NHL rights for 2017-18, so he had to explore the possibility of a sign-and-trade, which might have been difficult to pull off.
Source: SKA.ru
Jul 10 - 8:02 AM

Ilya Kovalchuk has signed a one-year contract extension with the KHL's St. Petersburg SKA.

Kovalchuk's agent already said that his client would remain in the KHL for the 2017-18 campaign, so this doesn't come as a surprise. Still this officially closes the door on him playing in the NHL next season. Kovalchuk had expressed an interest in returning to North America, but it would have been a complicated process as New Jersey still controlled his NHL rights. That would have forced a sign-and-trade to be arranged if Kovalchuk wanted to play anywhere other than the Devils. He won't have to deal with that next summer though as he'll be an unrestricted free agent in the NHL.
Jul 9 - 4:12 PM

Ilya Kovalchuk's agent has confirmed that his client will remain in the KHL for the 2017-18 campaign.

That matches up with a previous report. Kovalchuk did explore the possibility of returning to the NHL, but this outcome isn't surprising. Kovalchuk's rights still belong to the Devils so he could only go elsewhere through a sign-and-trade, which complicated things. Next summer he wouldn't have that issue as he would be an unrestricted free agent. Additionally, by staying in the KHL for one more season he can participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, which the NHL has already stated that it won't be a part of.
Jul 4 - 9:20 PM

Ilya Kovalchuk has reportedly decided to stay in the KHL for the 2017-18 campaign.

Kovalchuk had considered returning to the NHL for this coming season, but it would have been somewhat complicated as the New Jersey Devils still control his NHL rights. A sign-and-trade was a possibility, but then any team that wanted Kovalchuk would have had to both pay his salary and surrender assets to the Devils in order to acquire him. Kovalchuk can become an unrestricted free agent next season so it will be easier for him to return to the NHL at that time.
Jul 4 - 3:36 PM

Devils GM Ray Shero doesn't see the Ilya Kovalchuk situation stretching out for "real long."

As previously reported, a decision isn't expected until Monday at the earliest, but we might not have to wait too much longer to see the conclusion to this saga. Kovalchuk has been entertaining the possibility of returning to North America, but if he does so this summer then he'd have to go through the Devils. New Jersey still controls his rights so even if Kovalchuk wants to play elsewhere, he'd have to get the Devils to go along with a sign-and-trade. If Kovalchuk waits until the summer of 2018 then he'll be an unrestricted free agent and simply sign with the team of his choosing.
Jul 2 - 2:38 PM

A report out of Russia suggests that Ilya Kovalchuk will decide no earlier than Monday as to where he will play in 2017-18.

Kovalchuk, who has spent the last four seasons playing in the KHL, could remain in Russia or come and play again in the NHL. He is currently owned by the Devils but wants to play for a contender so the Devils would have to sign him and trade him. Next season Kovalchuk becomes a UFA so he could wait a year and then offer his services to any team. Stay tuned as the offensively gifted winger had 32 goals and 78 points last season in 60 games.
Jul 2 - 8:45 AM

The Rangers, Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets are all on Ilya Kovalchuk's wish list, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.

Kovalchuk can officially sign an NHL contract as of noon ET today, but it has to be with the New Jersey Devils. Once a contract is signed, he's expected to be moved via a sign-and-trade. As LeBrun points out, it doesn't sound like the Maple Leafs are interested in Kovalchuk's services. Toronto has plenty of quality forwards on their roster and they'll likely want to spend their money on improving their defense this off-season.
Jul 1 - 9:30 AM

Ilya Kovalchuk might not come back to the NHL after all.

It's reportedly becoming increasingly likely that Kovalchuk will simply choose to stay in the KHL for now. He's been exploring the possibility of returning to North America, which would have had to involve signing with the New Jersey Devils and then being traded to the team of his choice. There's still a chance that he ends up following through with that plan though and plays in the NHL in 2017-18.
Jun 29 - 11:17 AM

The Columbus Blue Jackets have spoken to Ilya Kovalchuk's agent.

Kovalchuk still belongs to the Devils, but Columbus obviously is interested in bringing the Russian into the fold. Kovalchuk had 32 goals and 78 points in 60 KHL games last season.
Jun 27 - 8:43 PM

Ilya Kovalchuk's name will be heard plenty this week.

The Devils have a nice trading chip in Kovalchuk who has spent the last four seasons in the KHL but wants to return to the NHL and play for a contender. The Devils hold his rights and need to trade him this season as they will not be contenders for the Stanley Cup, as he will become a UFA once he turns 35 next year. The Devils should get a couple of nice prospects for the Russian and that will aid in their rebuild. Stay tuned as the next seven days should be interesting.
Jun 26 - 8:36 AM

Ilya Kovalchuk is reportedly unlikely to end up with the New York Islanders or Rangers.

The Rangers were previously listed as one of the teams gunning for Kovalchuk, but they've reportedly pulled out of the bidding while the Islanders are also apparently not interested. Kovalchuk would need to sign with the New Jersey Devils and then have them trade him to the team of his choosing, so in addition to whatever his salary would be, any team interested in Kovalchuk would also need to provide the Devils with assets to make it worth their while. St. Louis, San Jose, and Toronto have also been previously cited as possible destinations for Kovalchuk.
Jun 9 - 4:07 PM

The Columbus Blue Jackets have reportedly joined the list of teams interested in acquiring Ilya Kovalchuk.

Kovalchuk has spent the last four seasons in the KHL, but he's considering returning to the NHL for the 2017-18 campaign. The thing is that Kovalchuk's only way of getting back in the NHL is by signing with the New Jersey Devils. He was originally signed with the Devils and got out of his contract by retiring and then immediately heading to the KHL, which is why they still control his NHL rights. That being said, the Devils have the option of signing and then immediately trading Kovalchuk, which is a very real possibility. St. Louis, the New York Rangers, Toronto, and San Jose have also been thrown out there as possible destinations for Kovalchuk.
Jun 5 - 2:58 PM

The New York Post is reporting that more than six teams have been in touch with the New Jersey Devils regarding Ilya Kovalchuk.

Some of the teams that have shown interest are St. Louis, the Rangers, Toronto and San Jose. GM Ray Shero is in a bind because it has become apparent that Kovalchuk, who has spent the last four seasons in the KHL, does not want to play for New Jersey, but the Devils will lose any compensation after the 2017-18 season is completed. In other words, if Kovalchuk decides to play another year in the KHL, he will turn 35 and become an unrestricted free agent. The Devils therefore have to do something this off-season and not lose all rights to the talented winger. Stay tuned.
Source: NY Post
Jun 4 - 8:50 AM

Devils GM Ray Shero is in a holding pattern when it comes to Ilya Kovalchuk.

Shero's understanding is that Kovalchuk is interested in returning to the NHL, but the Devils GM is waiting to see where Kovalchuk would want to play. Kovalchuk would have no choice but to sign with New Jersey if he wants to return to the NHL for the 2017-18 campaign, but the Devils would have the option to then turn around and trade him to a team of Kovalchuk's choosing. "I can't go out calling teams because that's a waste of my time," Shero said. "He's going to tell [us] where he wants to play and in the end, if that does work out and it's not the Devils, then I've got to see if that makes sense for us to do that." Shero added that any sign-and-trade would have to make sense for the Devils, so if Kovalchuk does insist on playing somewhere else then we imagine that New Jersey will receive something substantive as compensation. It's also worth noting that he can't sign before July 1, so this matter won't be resolved in the near future.
Source: NHL.com
Jun 1 - 6:41 PM

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D1Damon Severson
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9Steven Santini
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