As reported last week, Russian veteran forward Ilya Kovalchuk, who has played the last four years in the KHL, wants to return to the NHL next year. The 34-year-old wing now says he would like a sign-and-trade out of New Jersey, according to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks. It was also tweeted by Russian reporter Slava Malamud that Kovalchuk would prefer to stay in New York City or move to Florida.
Kovalchuk, whose rights are still owned by the New Jersey Devils, would need a sign-and-trade deal to get him to one of those locations as he has made it clear that his family is a top priority on where he plays next season. It’s quite clear the Devils, who finished near the bottom of the NHL this past season, are not on his wishlist.
The veteran is coming off his best season in the last four years for St. Petersburg SKA, tallying 32 goals and 46 assists for 78 points in 60 games. He put up 11 goals and 20 assists for the Devils in the shortened 2012-13 season. In 2011-12, Kovalchuk put up 37 goals and 46 assists. So, while his production is not at issue, his contract is. His contract still had 12 years and $77MM remaining when he left the Devils for the KHL.