As per a report and tweet from the KHL, veteran winger Ilya Kovalchuk has left the NHL again (for the second time) and will be returning to Russia to continue his professional hockey career. Reports are that Kovalchuk has signed a two-year deal with Avangard Omsk.
Related: Ilya Kovalchuk Set to Sign In KHL
We wrote last week that speculation was this was the next course of action for the long-time hockey forward. The Avangard team is is coached by Bob Hartley and Kovalchuk’s agent told Sport24’s Maxim Samartsev that he was working on a deal for his client to join the club for the remainder of their season. It appears, he’s decided to extend his stay a bit longer, having signed a two-year pact.
Now 37, there was some talk that Kovalchuk would have been willing to sign a bargain-basement deal with an NHL team in free agency, but the team had to be the right fit. He was not about to sign with someone who didn’t offer him a chance to win.
Kovalchuk Needed the Right NHL Team to Come Along
He chatted with the Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun he was hoping to land with a Stanley Cup contender. Obviously, that wasn’t about to happen. Not only was it unlikely considering the surplus of forwards available with fewer openings, but NHL teams were holding onto their dollars tightly.
Kovalchuk said before ultimately signing in Russia, “I’m training to keep myself in shape. I talk to Pat all the time, he keeps me posted. But I’m not in a rush.” He added, “We will try to find the right place, the right fit, that’s good for everybody.’”
Apparently, that’s back in the KHL where both sides are intimately familiar with the other.
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