Kings to terminate Kovalchuk’s contract

Kovalchuk Kings Waivers
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The Ilya Kovalchuk era with the Los Angeles Kings has come to an end.

The team announced on Monday that it has placed the veteran winger on unconditional waivers for the purposes of terminating his contract. He will become an unrestricted free agent once that process completes.

This move has been inevitable for a while now and it’s been assumed for the past month that once the Kings paid him a $2.65 million bonus payment (due on Sunday) that he would walk away from the team, setting the stage for this process to play out.

By doing so he leaves around $400,000 in salary, as well as $4.25 million next season, on the table.

Kovalchuk has not appeared in a game for the Kings since Nov. 9 as they attempt to start looking toward the future in what has quickly become another lost season.

He signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with the Kings in free agency prior to the 2018-19 season, but it was a relationship that never seemed to work from the very beginning. He never seemed to gain the trust of last year’s coaching staff, and as this season progressed it became obvious that he was no longer the type of impact player that could elevate an otherwise stale hockey team.

In 17 games this season he scored three goals and had nine total points.

He finished his Kings tenure with 19 goals and 43 total points in 81 games over two seasons.

Now the focus turns to where he ends up once he becomes a free agent. He is clearly no longer the elite offensive force that he was before leaving for the KHL, and if he is not scoring goals he is probably not going to be a major difference-maker. But there is still a little bit of talent left there that he could probably still offer something in a complementary role or as a power play specialist.

MORE: Examining options for Kings, Kovalchuk

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.