In an ideal scenario, the New Jersey Devils would be able to play the field and get the best deal possible for Ilya Kovalchuk’s rights.
In reality, GM Ray Shero & Co. are vulnerable to the 34-year-old UFA forward’s whims, including whether he truly wants to return to the NHL at all. Shero told NHL.com that Jay Grossman (Kovalchuk’s agent) indicated that the sniper’s preference was North America over the KHL.
“If tomorrow he decides to stay in Russia, OK, but who knows?” Shero said, according to NHL.com. “That’s his call in the end. Right now nothing, according to [Grossman], has changed and he would like to pursue [NHL] opportunities.”
Shero notes that “Kovalchuk kind of drives the bus on this in terms of talking to teams or where he could want to play.”
As this post notes, the situation is a little complex, as the Devils would need to sign-and-trade Kovalchuk.
On the bright side, Kovalchuk’s services seem like they’ll be worth all the headaches. He generated 78 points in the KHL in 2016-17, and even at 34 would probably rank as one of the deadliest shooters in the NHL.
Even if the Devils don’t quite get full value in moving him to … wherever?