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Kings Sign Free Agent Ilya Kovalchuk
Over his 11-year NHL career, Kovalchuk has played for the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils. He has scored 417 career goals and 399 career assists for 816 career points in 816 games. Kovalchuk also added 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points in 32 career Stanley Cup Playoff games. He was originally drafted first overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2001 NHL Draft. Kovalchuk is also a three-time all-star and won the Rocket Richard Trophy during the 2013-14 season.
Last season in the KHL, Kovalchuk had 31 goals and 32 assists for 63 points in 53 games. He also added 26 minutes in penalties.
Kovalchuk won an Olympic Gold Medal with the Olympic Athletes of Russia in Pyeongchang and was named MVP of the tournament.
What This Means for Kovalchuk’s Future
Ilya Kovalchuk hasn’t played in the NHL since he retired from the Devils in the midst of a 15-year, $100 million contract in July 2013. Kovalchuk only played in four of the 15 years of his contract before leaving for Russia to play in the KHL. Under the terms of his retirement agreement with the NHL, NHLPA and the Devils, Kovalchuk could return to the NHL this year as an unrestricted free agent.
Kovalchuk will help the Kings by providing his NHL experience along with his ability to score. After spending six years in the KHL it will be interesting to see how long it takes Kovalchuk to get back into the grove of North American Hockey. He has shown that he still has the ability to score by putting up 30 goals in the past two season in the KHL. Kovalchuk will look to become an NHL all-star once again and capture his first Stanley Cup with his new club.