After all the rumors of Ilya Kovalchuk possibly returning to the NHL, he has agreed to return to the KHL with St. Petersburg SKA on a one-year deal.
Ilya Kovalchuk has signed a one-year deal with St. Petersburg SKA of the KHL. This will see the final year of his NHL rights, currently held by the New Jersey Devils, expire. This means Kovalchuk will be able to return to the NHL after next season and sign with whoever he chooses to.
Kovalchuk, 34, has spent the last four full seasons with SKA St. Petersburg when he opted to leave the NHL after the 2012-13 season. He has played in 245 games for St. Petersburg since his arrival, scoring 107 goals and adding 164 assists to his total.
Before heading back to his homeland, Kovalchuk played in 816 games with the Atlanta Thrashers and the New Jersey Devils. The Thrashers took Kovalchuk with the first overall selection in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, a decision that would prove to be a very smart one.
Kovalchuk played in a total of 594 games with the Thrashers, making a name for himself as a superstar in the NHL at that time. During his time in Atlanta, he scored 328 goals along with 287 assists. 615 points in 594 games is a fantastic return for a first overall pick.
While his point production in New Jersey wasn’t quite on par with that, it was still at an elite level compared to the rest of the NHL. In 222 games for the Devils, he had 89 goals and 112 assists.
Kovalchuk’s best season in the NHL came in the 2005-06 season while he was still with the Thrashers. During that season he had a career-high 52 goals and a career-high 46 assists for 98 points in just 78 games.
The likely future Hall of Famer may still return to the NHL but it won’t be for at least one more year.