According to Full Press Coverage’s Aivis Kaninš, forward Ilya Kovalchuk’s NHL career appears to be over. He added that Kovalchuk is expected to sign with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk, which is coached by former Calgary Flames bench boss Bob Hartley.
The 37-year-old became an unrestricted free agent on October 9 after the one-year deal that he signed with the Montreal Canadiens in December 2019 expired.
The Canadiens traded Kovalchuk to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick on February 23. He tallied a goal and four points in seven games after the trade and finished the 2019-20 season with 10 goals, 26 points, and a -4 rating in 46 games with the Capitals, Canadiens, and Los Angeles Kings. Kovalchuk was held to just one assist in eight Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Capitals last season.
After losing Kovalchuk, the Capitals have a need of a middle-six right-winger but their priority has to be getting a goaltender after Henrik Lundqvist announced that he will not play in the 2020-21 season due to a heart condition. The Capitals have around $500,000 in salary cap space.
Kovalchuk played five seasons with SKA St. Petersburg from 2013-18 before returning to the NHL for two seasons. In 926 career NHL games, Kovalchuk recorded 443 goals, 876 points, and a -146 rating. He was selected first overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2001 NHL Draft.
Ilya Kovalchuk’s run in the NHL appears to have ended. Per his agent – he’s set to sign with Avangard Omsk of the KHL, that is coached by Bob Hartley.
— Aivis Kalniņš (@aiviskalnins) December 18, 2020
By Harrison Brown