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Is Ilya Kovalchuk staying in the KHL?

Jan 8, 2013, 9:37 AM EDT

Ilya Kovalchuk Getty Images

A lot of big-name Russian-born players went to the KHL over the lockout and a couple, like Ilya Kovalchuk, suggested months ago that it might not be a temporary assignment.

“Basically, I don’t rule out staying in Russia in the case of a reduction of our salaries in the NHL,” Kovalchuk told

With the NHL season about to get underway, Kovalchuk is still with St. Petersburg SKA and playing with them today, according to the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti. So is he just getting in a little extra time with the team he has been captaining, or is something else going on?

TSN Bob McKenzie’s tweeted that many in New Jersey are hearing that Kovalchuk might not return, although McKenzie cautioned that it’s just a rumor and not something he’s confirmed.

For his part, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello hasn’t spoken with Kovalchuk yet, according to the Bergen Record. However, Lamoriello hasn’t gotten any indication that Kovalchuk is thinking about staying in Russia in defiance of the 15-year, $100 million deal he signed with New Jersey.

Kovalchuk’s agent Jay Grossman added that he’s “working on” arrangements for the superstar to head back to New Jersey.

So now we wait to see if that happens or if the rumors have a basis in reality.

Kovalchuk, 29, is signed with the Devils through 2024-25 and has been paid just $12 million of his $100 million deal. If he were to stay in Russia, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says his contracted “could be” voided.

Update (11:19 a.m. ET):


Sorry, Isles: Visnovsky to stick with KHL club (Updated)

  1. njdevils44 - Jan 8, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    That’s fantastic. That’s good way to piss the fans off even more.

  2. bricktop02 - Jan 8, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    If he stays in Russia does he forfeit his contract with devils?

  3. ron05342 - Jan 8, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    What an idiotic story. Why the **** would he stay in Russia and ignore a $100 million contract?

    Stupidest post ever on PHT.

    • thailer35 - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:04 AM

      Because it’s an actual possibility, and it would be pretty big news if he did stay.

    • jl9830 - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      Because he’ll get paid even more in Russia.

    • sfccorliss - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      His contract was front loaded with the majority of his contract being paid in the first 6 years… the final 4 years had him making less than $2 million each.

      It would be good for NJ to free up that cap space, but I know the NHL would penalize the cap space regardless.

  4. martysbetter - Jan 8, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    This would suck.

  5. thecheeman - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    He makes $66M in real money (not including this year’s pro-rating) over the next 6 years, not just in cap hit.

    The CBA hasn’t been ratified yet he should be under no obligation to leave Russia yet. He’s probably getting nonstop love from his countryment and he wants to play in one more game that features no checking and open skating.

    Unfortunately it’s not the kind of thing you would want to see from your potential captain. As a Devils fan I hope it goes to Elias or Salvador or one of the guys who’s been here organizing team skates.

  6. boondocksaint7 - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Please stay in Russia.

    Signed, a Penguins fan

    • phillyphanatic77 - Jan 8, 2013 at 1:05 PM

      I second. It would be absolutely devastating for NJ to lose both Parise and Kovalchuk in the same offseason. Don’t think it will happen, however.

  7. leeo00 - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    what about tarasenko for the blues , any news on him ?

  8. matt8204 - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    They’re greedy but they’re not stupid. Who would walk away from that kind of a contract?

    • jl9830 - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      Someone who would undoubtedly get a better contract in Russia.

    • woodstakes - Jan 8, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      Some perspective… Alex Semin got offered $10M US to play hockey in Russia… what do you think Kovy would get??

  9. nyrangers1994 - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Out of the entire international hockey community, it’s apparent that the players from Russia/former Soviet states have the most difficult time acclimating to life in America. Most of them flat out don’t like it here. This does not surprise me in the least.

    • lordfletcher - Jan 8, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      it’s not that they don’t like living in the states, it’s just not home and a different way of life than what they were raised in. I am willing to bet, living in the states as a multi millionaire that barely gets noticed walking around a mall isn’t THAT bad of a lifestyle. Most acclimate incredibly well

      • lordfletcher - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:03 PM

        also forgot to add…

        lets say the average Russian player makes two time more in the NHL than he would in the KHL. After the difference in taxes, it ends up being a much closer net… If you making 7 million in America and could make 5 million in your home country, I think most would chose to stay, I personally can’t blame them at all. The major difference is the everyday life, amenities between the two leagues, travel, areans, fans, lure of playing in the best hockey league and the Stanley Cup.

  10. jaredo10 - Jan 8, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    What a deucebag. Devils should of used that money on Parise and then some

  11. matt8204 - Jan 8, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    I think we need to take anything said during the lockout with a grain of salt. Emotions were running high on all sides. People don’t always use their heads in the heat of the moment.

  12. edwelsh8 - Jan 8, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    @SlavaMalamud: Kovalchuk says, ‘I will need to read the new agreement’ before he decides what to do next. So there… #NJDevils

    Apparently, there is some hesitation from Kovalchuk.

  13. flyerguy73 - Jan 8, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    Let him stay over there. He is a punk.

    • thecheeman - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      you want to see a punk? Google “Kovalchuk Schenn KO”

      • phillyphanatic77 - Jan 8, 2013 at 1:02 PM

        Please, Kovalchuk happened to connect on one punch in a fight where Schenn had to cleanup Rinaldos mess. It wasnt a totally lopsided fight. Schenns no punk, Rinaldo is.

      • kegmen7 - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        Schenn may not be a punk but he is Kovie’s biatch…

  14. matt8204 - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    So what happens if he doesn’t return? Can he be sued for breach of contract? Does the CBA address this kind of scenario?

  15. matt8204 - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    And can the Devils avoid some of the cap hit? It’s not their fault if he elects to stay in Russia, after all. Or do they assume the risk that this might happen when the contract is signed?

  16. mattyo99 - Jan 8, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Overrated, the devils would be lucky to get rid of that contract

  17. hawkeyplayer - Jan 8, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    28 people care

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