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Ilya Kovalchuk Set to Sign In KHL

It looks like Ilya Kovalchuk is leaving the NHL again and heading back to the KHL to join Avangard Omsk for the rest of the season.

For the second time in his long and illustrious career, Ilya Kovalchuk’s run in the NHL appears to be over. Per his agent Yuri Nikolaev, Kovalchuk is set to sign with Avangard Omsk of the KHL.

Related: What You Need to Know: NHL and NHLPA Reach Tentative Deal On 56-Game Season

The Avangard team is is coached by Bob Hartley and Kovalchuk’s agent told Sport24’s Maxim Samartsev that he is working on a deal for his client to join the club for the remainder of their season.

While it might seem like interesting timing that Kovalchuk’s pending deal in the KHL was announced just as the NHL and NHLPA worked out an agreement to get the 2020-21 season under way, it goes to show how little interest teams had in adding the veteran to an NHL roster. At the same time, Kovalchuk had said that there were only a handful of situations in which he’d like to join an NHL team and wanted the opportunity to compete for a Stanley Cup.

There are a number of free agent forwards that have yet to go signed in the NHL and while there’s a bit of time left before the season begins, if Kovalchuk is considering the KHL, there’s not much time left for him. The deadline to join Avangard Omsk is next Sunday and players not on a roster by then are ineligible for the rest of the season. 

One Final Effort by Kovalchuk’s Agent?

The combination of him needing to make a decision by the 27th of December and with little interest from a competitive Stanley Cup roster is likely why the news is out there now. And, while it is most likely he does head to the KHL, it can’t hurt to make sure every NHL team knows talk of Kovalchuk heading to the KHL is a real.

Ilya Kovalchuk Montreal Canadiens
Ilya Kovalchuk Montreal Canadiens

It could be one last ditch effort by his agent to let teams know that they have until next Sunday to pick up the phone and sign the veteran who can still score in the right situation.

Next: Mathew Barzal and Pierre-Luc Dubois: Contract Negotiations Heating Up

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