The Ilya Kovalchuk saga is finally over. After years of speculation surrounding him and whether or not he’d skate again in the NHL, Kovalchuk has officially signed a three-year deal with the LA Kings.
KHL's leading scorer and 2018 Olympic MVP Ilya Kovalchuk will join the LA Kings for the 2018-19 season after agreeing to terms on a 3-year contract.https://t.co/xp15gyuKBu
— LA Kings (@LAKings) June 23, 2018
At 35, Kovalchuk will join the Kings for the 2018-19 season and will remain under contract through the 2020-21 season. The Kings didn’t announce the details of the contract in their initial announcement, but it was later revealed that Kovalchuk will carry an annual hit against the salary cap of $6.25 million.
Kovalchuk deal is three years with an AAV of $6.25M. Same as Patrick Marleau.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 23, 2018
As the leading scorer in the KHL and a recent Olympic MVP, Kovalchuk adds an immediate injection of offense into a Kings’ roster that’s hurting for offense. The Kings ranked 16th in average offense in 2017-18 (2.89 goals per game) and ranked last in average offense in their first-round playoff exit (0.75 goals per game).
Kovalchuk scored 31 goals in 53 KHL games in 2017-18 and 32 goals in 60 games in 2016-17. While offensive production in the KHL doesn’t always translate to the NHL, Kovalchuk’s previous experience in the NHL should make for a relatively seamless transition. That being said, the NHL has changed quite a bit since Kovalchuk was with the New Jersey Devils back in 2012-13. Can he keep up with the league’s increased speed? How will his skill hold up as he approaches 40?
Now that Kovalchuk’s destination has been determined, the NHL’s market should start to open up.
The Kings signing Kovalchuyk takes them out of the Jeff Skinner conversations they were having with Carolina all week long.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 23, 2018
The Kings already had some interesting stories to follow this season, but Kovalchuk’s return to the NHL should be a fascinating story to follow all season long.