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Ilya Kovalchuk Returning to NHL?

The annual Ilya Kovalchuk back to the NHL rumors have started up, but this time they have a bit of substance. Kovalchuk’s contract in the KHL is up, making him essentially a free agent regarding which league to sign with. When it comes to the NHL, that’s a different story. Even though the New Jersey Devils terminated his contract when he went to Russia, they have some leverage. Kovy can sign with New Jersey or he would need approval of all 30 teams to sign elsewhere. At least that’s how Elliott Friedman views it, as he told viewers on Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada.

Kovalchuk obviously isn’t the player he once was, but is still a big name and a good player. The question is do he and the Devils want each other? At age 34, Kovalchuk probably doesn’t want to play on a rebuilding team, but his options are limited. Do the Devils want him back after he walked out them? Although in fairness, there was likely more than meets the eye in the whole ordeal. The Devils were having financial problems and Kovalchuk leaving helped them out.

One scenario is a sign-and-trade deal, but what would the Devils get for him is a huge question. Teams may not want to fork over much for somebody who has played the last four years in the KHL. A one-year contract with the Devils, who move him at the trade deadline is a possibility. That would give him a chance to show his worth and give the Devils some much-needed offense. It could be a win-win type of situation that works out for everybody involved.

Kovy is still a talented player and the NHL can always use another marquee player. It would be great to see he and the Devils get something worked out to bring about his return to the NHL.

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