National Hockey League fans are patiently awaiting to see where Russian superstar Ilya Kovalchyuk will end up next season, but they now better add the Edmonton Oilers as a potential destination.
For weeks now it has been speculated that the New York Rangers are the frontrunners in the Kovalchyuk sweepstakes as the veteran forward is looking around the free agent market to see where he shall make his long awaited NHL return.
Kovalchuk was interested in returning to the NHL last season, but the New Jersey Devils held his rights so he either had to play in New Jersey or be traded to another team. The Russian superstar hasn't played since the 2012-13 season with the Devils, appearing in 37 games and recording 11 goals and 20 assist. At that point Kovalchuk retired from the NHL to play in the KHL in Russia, despite being in the middle of a 15-year, $100 million contract with the Devils. Kovalchuk finished this past season with 32 goals and 33 assists in 55 games for St. Petersburg SKA.
He had 816 points (417 goals and 399 assists) in a total of 816 NHL games with the Atlanta Thrashers and Devils before going back home to Russia.
According to NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, who made a brief note in his latest 31 Thoughts column on Sportsnet, the Oilers have made a move to acquire Kovalchyuk, but Friedman doubts it will be successful.
“Sounds like Edmonton checked in on Ilya Kovalchuk. Not a bad idea, actually. But it won’t happen.”
Friedman most likely believes that it is a good call from Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli to investigate on Kovalchyuk seeing that his team is in dire need of a boost at the wing.
However, Kovalchyuk is looking to join a serious Cup contender and the Oilers’ latest performance might convince him to sign elsewhere. With that said however, the Rangers did not have the most impressive run this year either, so… Oilers fans can keep dreaming.
The KHL star recently denied rumors that were sending him to the Rangers, claiming that he had no agreement in place with any NHL team.
"I got a lot of friends called. Ask, congratulate," Kovalchuk said of the rumours on Russia's Sports.Ru, per Google translate. "I answer: That's how the press in Russia works great, that I have already signed the contract, and the number of years, and the team found... In fact, I have not had any talks with anyone else.”