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Ilya Kovalchuk Set to Sign Bargain Basement Deal With NHL Club

Now 37, Ilya Kovalchuk’s employment in the NHL is certainly not a given next season. He’s now a free agent, has yet to sign a contract and there’s uncertainty as to where he fits in a league that has very little money to spend and his skill set is somewhat one-dimensional. He’s made it clear during his chat with The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun that he’s hoping the right fit will come, he’s just yet to find it.

Related: Kovalchuk A Given to Return to Montreal?

Kovalchuk told LeBrun he’s hoping to land with a Stanley Cup contender. He noted he’s wanting to play for a team that gives him a shot to win, but he said it’s not just about him. He wants to be in a place where they want him too. “Not just one side. That’s very important, too,’’ said Kovalchuk.

When talking about how close he might be to a new deal, he alluded to the idea that there have certainly been conversations, but he’s not in a rush.

“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. We will try to find the right place, the right fit, that’s good for everybody.’’

This Isn’t About Money

LeBrun notes that Kovalchuk has all the money he needs. He’s made plenty during his career. His expectation is that he’ll sign a bargain basement deal. He’s trading the money for the right fit, something he said was more important a number of times.

Ilya Kovalchuk Montreal Canadiens
Ilya Kovalchuk Montreal Canadiens

While not guaranteed and there’s no way to know which way he’s leaning, it sounds like a deal might be close, if not out there just sort of waiting for a couple other things to happen. One Eastern Conference GM told The Athletic on Tuesday morning. “I actually think if he signs for the league minimum, a team will definitely sign him. There’s no risk.’’

And, should it not work out, Kovalchuk sounds ready to head back to the KHL.

Next: Andreas Athanasiou Shunning Oilers Before NHL Free Agency a Mistake

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