Ilya Kovalchuk signs one-year deal in Russia

Ilya Kovalchuk is officially staying in Russia.

The 34-year-old former NHL star has re-signed with St. Petersburg SKA for the 2017-18 KHL season, the league announced Sunday.

Kovalchuk, a star winger for the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils from 2001 to 2013, considered returning to the NHL this off-season but has opted to stay put for at least one more year following unsuccessful contract/trade negotiations with the Devils.

Participating in the PyeongChang Olympics — which will not include NHL players — factored into Kovalchuk’s decision to remain in Europe.

According to various reports over the past few months, Kovalchuk was a highly sought-after commodity. Next July 1, the Devils will lose his NHL rights as the Tver, Russia, native becomes an unrestricted free agent.

"One of the main factors was the upcoming Olympic Games," he told SKA’s official website. "In 2018, only players who play in European championships and the KHL can compete there. It was important to stay with SKA, because I have only played here in the KHL. I have a lot of warmth for the club and our fans."

Since leaving the NHL, Kovalchuck has racked up 107 goals and 157 assists for 264 points in 245 KHL games.

Source : http://calgarysun.com/2017/07/10/ilya-kovalchuk-signs-one-year-deal-in-russia

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