The Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes are heating up and we can say that they are coming to an end. According to host of Hockey Night in Canada on CBC David Amber, the Russian superstar has made his decision and will announce where he will sign shortly.
Then moments later, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period revealed that Kovalchyuk has agreed to a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings, which then confirmed the signing.
The contract is similar to the one offered to Patrick Marleau with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
On Friday, NHL Insider Pierre LeBrun revealed that there are four teams that have emerged as the contenders for the goal scorer. The Boston Bruins, Kings, San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights have all met with Kovalchyuk's agent, JP Barry, and a decision could be taking place shortly, even before July 1st when the Russian superstar can make his official return to the NHL.
On Friday, Vegas Insider John Hoven went a step further by reporting that the Golden Knights had a pitch contract on the table for Kovalchyuk, ready to present him with a two-year, $10 million contract to join the team in Sin City.
However, it seems like the Kings have won the sweepstakes.
Last week, LeBrun noted that Kovalchyuk had been holding up the trade market for the past weeks. LeBrun revealed that teams with interest in Kovalchuk are among some of the clubs the Carolina Hurricanes are talking to about a possible trade of Jeff Skinner. Kovalchuk must make a decision where he’ll sign in the next weeks before the Hurricanes can move Skinner.
"He’s also a 35-and-over deal, which has CBA implications (the entire contract counts against the cap regardless of whether he plays out the deal) so no doubt teams would rather just have him on a one-year deal, but that’s not what Barry intends to get. It’s going to be at least two years, if not three," once explained LeBrun.
One thing seems almost certain is that Kovalchuk’s preference is to join a Stanley Cup contender. All of the three interested teams tick that box and could persuade Kovalchyuk to jump on board. The Russian veteran could reach an agreement in principle with a team before the unrestricted free agent market officially opens at noon ET on July 1, but Kovalchuk can't officially sign until July 1.
Kovalchyuk has no doubt he has proven to team all across the NHL that he is ready to prove that he can step back in the NHL without any issues. In addition to winning Olympic gold at the Winter Games this past February, Kovalchuk was named the tournament MVP, and added this to a fantastic season of 31 goals in 53 games with SKA Saint Petersburg in the KHL.