What has been assumed and reported for days has been officially announced. Ilya Kovalchuk has inked a four-year contract with SKA Saint Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League.
Last week, Kovalchuk sent shock waves through the hockey world when he decided to retire from the NHL despite having $77 million left on his 15-year, $100 million contract. Kovalchuk’s decision left the New Jersey Devils with a massive hole in their lineup, not to mention a $250,000 annual cap recapture penalty through 2024-25.
On top of that, the Devils don’t have a first round draft pick in 2014 as punishment for their first attempt to sign Kovalchuk.
Following his retirement, it quickly became apparent that Kovalchuk would head to the KHL to extend his career. His mother suggested that this had been on the 30-year-old forward’s mind since January and he was influenced by his time with SKA during the lockout.
Taxation in the United States as well as the NHL’s escrow rules were also apparently factors as it’s believed that Kovalchuk stands to benefit financially from this maneuver. SKA hasn’t released the financial terms of their agreement with Kovalchuk.
The next time a wide North American audience sees him on the ice might be during the 2014 Winter Olympics. Team Russia and the United States will be in the same division.
— Dave Stubbs (@Dave_Stubbs) July 15, 2013