Ilya Kovalchuk won't play in NHL in 2017-18, will stay in Russia

Former Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk will stay in Russia and play in the KHL during the 2017-18 season instead of making a return to the NHL, his agent, Jay Grossman, confirmed on Tuesday.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported the Devils and general manager Ray Shero attempted to make trades to bring Kovalchuk back to his desired team, but nothing ever came to fruition.

The Devils owned Kovalchuk's rights after he retired from the NHL following the 2012-13 season to return to Russia. After four seasons in the KHL, he explored an NHL comeback, which required him to sign with the Devils since they held his rights. Shero was open to sign-and-trades to send Kovalchuk to his desired team.

Devils' lines, pairings in 2017-18?

Shero said throughout the process that control was out of his hands while Kovalchuk and his agent, Jay Grossman, spoke to other teams about playing in the NHL. 

Kovalchuk was not eleigble to sign any NHL contract before July 1, and Shero said at the start of the month that he expected the situation to be resolved quickly.

If Kovalchuk does play the full 2017-18 season in Russia, he will be eligible to return to the NHL as an unrestricted free agent next summer after he turns 35 in April. The Devils will no longer own his rights

Playing in Russia next winter also gives Kovalchuk the option to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics, since NHL players will not be participating.

Chris Ryan may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRyan_NJ. Find NJ.com Devils on Facebook.

Source : http://www.nj.com/devils/index.ssf/2017/07/ilya_kovalchuk_wont_play_in_nhl_in_2017-18_will_st.html

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