Jan 11, 2013, 11:20 AM EDT
The Ilya Kovalchuk-KHL saga is over.
Well, over for now.
Reports out of Russia claim the New Jersey sniper has played his final regular season game for SKA St. Petersburg and, after participating in Sunday’s KHL All-Star Game, will fly back to North America and report to Devils training camp — albeit a day late.
Here’s more, from NorthJersey.com’s Tom Gulliti:
According to Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo Sports, the coach of Kovalchuk’s KHL team, SKA St. Petersburg, said that Thursday’s game against Salavat Yulaev in Ufa, Russia was likely the last in the KHL for Kovalchuk, meaning, in Chesnokov’s estimation, that Kovalchuk will leave for New Jersey as early as Monday.
Slava Malamud, a U.S.-based correspondent for the Russian sports daily Sport-Express, posted on Twitter today that SKA St. Petersburg’s GM [Alexei Kasatonov] said the team will make an announcement on Kovalchuk Saturday and that [Kovalchuk’s] family is already back in the U.S.
Kovalchuk’s waffling has been a hot topic lately.
Things heated up immediately after the lockout ended, as Kovalchuk said only time would tell if he’d stay in the KHL. He then explained he wanted to read the entire NHL CBA before making a decision.
Later, Kovalchuk told Russian news outlet Sport-Express he wanted to finish the season with SKA, but admitted he had “contractual obligations in the NHL, which will be hard to break.”
Given Kovalchuk is New Jersey’s highest-paid player — he’s
four three years into a 15-year, $100 million deal — it’s easy to see why his actions have come under scrutiny from fans and media.
What’s interesting, though, is the scrutiny also infiltrated the dressing room.
Teammate and former captain Patrik Elias said Kovalchuk missing the start of Devils camp is problematic.
“It is,” Elias said when asked if Kovalchuk missing the start of camp was a big deal. “We’re all supposed to report on Sunday, right?”
Compounding matters is the fact Kovalchuk should (theoretically) take a bigger leadership role this season with former captain Zach Parise now in Minnesota.
Kovalchuk was an alternate captain last season and led the Devils in regular season and playoff scoring. He also drew praise from NHL on NBC analyst Jeremy Roenick for leading New Jersey to the Cup finals.
“Kovalchuk has grown more than most superstars have in the National Hockey League,” Roenick said. “He’s an all-around player and much more of a team player.
“If he doesn’t grow like that, the team doesn’t get to the Final.”
Jul 6, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT
25-year-old defenseman struggled mightily last season.
Jul 6, 2015, 8:48 PM EDT
Connor McDavid’s running mate in Erie was the OHL’s leading scorer last season.
Jul 6, 2015, 7:25 PM EDT
Quebec City and Las Vegas have already expressed interest.
Jul 6, 2015, 6:08 PM EDT
Russian forward is coming off a solid rookie campaign.
Jul 6, 2015, 5:48 PM EDT
It’s now a crowded crease in Edmonton.
Jul 6, 2015, 5:26 PM EDT
For the third straight year.
Jul 6, 2015, 4:29 PM EDT
That’s him in the blue shirt, standing next to ex-NHL goalie Dan Cloutier… who is 6’1.
Jul 6, 2015, 3:13 PM EDT
Spent last year with Colorado’s AHL affiliate.
Jul 6, 2015, 2:37 PM EDT
Click for all the cap hits.
Jul 6, 2015, 2:17 PM EDT
His Kelowna Rockets went to the 2015 Memorial Cup.
Jul 6, 2015, 12:55 PM EDT
“You basically say, ‘I have no idea what’s going on, but it’s a great place to play and we have great fans and a great stadium.'”
Jul 6, 2015, 12:02 PM EDT
Played 59 games for the Sabres last season.
Jul 6, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT
“He gets to come in and have a heck of a year and put the screws to us.”
Jul 6, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT
They have the arena, but not the potential owner.
Jul 6, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT
Finished with a career-high 18 goals last season in Vancouver.
Jul 6, 2015, 9:58 AM EDT
Can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Jul 6, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
The 23-year-old could be in line for a significant raise.
Jul 6, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Monday’s collection of links.
Jul 5, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
He struggled in his first year pro split between the AHL and ECHL.
Jul 5, 2015, 8:06 PM EDT
He was bought out by Carolina last week.
- Bruins sign three — Hayes, Connolly, and DeFazio 10
- Babcock expects Kadri to be ‘an elite player’ 14
- No expansion bid expected from Kansas City 32
- Leafs sign Matthias — one year, $2.3 million 17
- Report: Kopitar, Kings in ‘early stages of negotiations’ for extension 12
- Arbitration filed: Holtby, Nyquist & Stepan highlight list released by NHLPA 13
- Report: Plotnikov paid $500K to get out of KHL contract 14
- Philadelphia signs ’15 first rounder Provorov 12
- Brandon Saad brings championship experience to Blue Jackets 22
- Sharks sign Joel Ward to three-year deal 25