What began as speculation - and then developed to everyone's favorite "informed speculation - can now be considered fact.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have discussed signing Ilya Kovalchuk.
Now, acquiring him won't be all that easy because his rights are still owned by the New Jersey Devils. Kovalchuk formally retired from the NHL in 2013 to return home and play in Russia's KHL, but has let the Devils know he intends to return to North America and so, here we are.
Blue Jackets president John Davidson confirmed having conversations with Kovalchuk's agent, Jay Grossman, but at this point they should be considered preliminary.
John Davidson tells PTS that CBJ have talked to Kovalchuk's agent...still preliminary, but certainly interested.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) June 27, 2017
The most likely scenario for wherever Kovalchuk ends up? He signs a new contract with the Devils (his previous deal was ripped up due to his abrupt retirement) and is traded to a new club.
Could that team be Columbus? Sure, but the Blue Jackets would prefer to add another offensive piece at center ice before pursuing another winger. The activity is only going to pick up from here, as free agency officially begins at noon E.T. on Saturday, with a bevy of trades sure to follow as well.