New Jersey Devils fans, don't read this.
Ilya Kovalchuk, a one-time cornerstone of that organization, bailed on a 15-year, $100 million deal after three seasons with New Jersey to go back to his native Russia and play for SKA St. Petersburg. He still showed the elite skill and shot that he had in the NHL, too, averaging more than a point per game and notching 64 goals over the last two seasons – in just 115 games total.
Well, Kovalchuk is coming back to the NHL – and to same region he played in before, but he's signing with his old team's rival, the New York Rangers.
Per source Ilya Kovalchuk is set to sign at 2-3 year deal with #NYR— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) April 9, 2018
The Devils shopped his contract around a bit last season, as they still controlled his rights. Technically, they still do, but once Kovalchuk turns 35 in a few days, the Devils will lose his contract rights, leaving him free to sign with the Rangers.
It's a bit of a curious move for a team that's openly acknowledged that it's in a rebuild, but Kovalchuk is still an elite offensive talent who should help usher in a new generation of Rangers forwards.