National Hockey League fans have been patiently waiting to see where former star and pending Ilya Kovalchyuk will sign, following a five-year stint in the Kontinental Hockey League in his home country of Russia, after he retired from the New Jersey Devils in 2013, a move that cut short his previously signed 15-year deal.
New details have been leaked on what the Russian veteran is expected to seek on the free-agent market and several interested teams are paying close attention to his demands. According to NHL insider Pierre LeBrun, the 35-year-old forward is ready to return to the NHL for the long haul. Kovalchyuk is courting interest from possible NHL suitors, with the idea of a two- or three-year contract close in mind, reports LeBrun in one of his articles from The Athletic.
“I’m exploring every (NHL) possibility for him at this stage,” Kovalchyuk's new agent JP Barry of CAA Sports told The Athletic on Friday. “We could make a decision around draft time or just a bit after.”
Here is what LeBrun had to say on what Kovalchyuk would prefer to get on his new NHL deal, and the obstacles he might be facing in the process:
"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," explains LeBrun.
Some people he could want a deal similar to the one offered to Patrick Marleau by the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer.
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.
He is more than ready.
“If there was any doubt in my mind, I would never come here. I wouldn't be running around just to collect the money,” Kovalchyuk said to TSN's Darren Dreger earlier this week. “I want to be productive and I want to play for the team that trusts in me and I will give them everything I can to make them proud and successful. I have three or four years left in my tank where I can compete at the highest level...that's why I'm here and that's why I want to sign in the NHL.”