Ilya Kovalchuk rumors are a summer tradition, but they may have just reached an abrupt end. Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that Kovalchuk will stay in the KHL for one more season after the New Jersey Devils unsuccessfully attempted to trade the talented Russian.

Assuming the report is factual, Kovalchuk will likely return to the NHL when he becomes a free agent in 2018 and is able to sign with any organization.

Brooks didn’t report any additional details regarding what the Devils tried to do in terms of a trade or who they attempted to trade with, but he does note that they did try. It’s possible Kovalchuk will change his mind (the landscape of the KHL is an unpredictable, unstable one), but that seems unlikely if the Devils are making plans to move on from the situation.

At the age of 34, Kovalchuk will reportedly remain with his current KHL team – SKA St.Petersburg – until he becomes an unrestricted free agent following the 2017-18 NHL season. Currently, the only way for Kovalchuk to return to the NHL was either by playing with the Devils or by signing a contract with the Devils before being traded to a new team. That will change in 2018 when the Devils no longer own his rights and he’ll be free to sign with any team.

The Kovalchuk rumors are exhausting, but that’s because he represents an immediate upgrade for many teams. Last year he had his best season in the KHL, scoring 32 goals and 46 assists in 60 games for SKA St.Petersburg. He hasn’t played an NHL game since 2012-13 and he is getting older, but the idea of landing Kovalchuk is a tantalizing idea for many NHL teams and fans.

Kovalchuk already burned the Devils once by taking off for the KHL. Will he do it again by putting the Devils in a position where they may not receive any assets when he eventually returns?

About David Rogers

Editor for The Comeback and Contributing Editor for Awful Announcing. Lover of hockey, soccer and all things pop culture.