The Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes are heating up and it seems like some paper work has already begun on Friday. According from the information provided by NHL Insider Pierre LeBrun, there are four teams that have emerged as the contenders for the goal scorer.
The Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights will all be meeting with Kovalchyuk's agent, JP Barry, and a decision could be taking place early on July 1st, when the Russian superstar can make his official return to the NHL.
Vegas Insider John Hoven goes a step further by reporting that the Golden Knights have 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.
The Athletic's Fluto Shinzawa reports that the Bruins also have an offer in place.
“His options will be presented to him,” Don Sweeney, the Bruins general manager, said Thursday, on the eve of the NHL Draft. “So he’ll see what’s in front of him.”
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.