KHL's president Alexander Medvedev not long ago said that the Russian club is ready to offer Kovalchuk a 17-year contract matching the Devils.
The talk is a little different now, as explained by Kovalchuk's Russian agent Yuri Nikolaev spoke with Sovetsky Sport on Wednesday and said the following:
"Kovalchuk came to Russia, [and] is taking care of his personal things, he started training. Just like Ilya, I found out about the arbitration decision not to accept his contract with New Jersey only on Tuesday. So now we just need to calmly figure out this situation. We need to understand what exactly happened."
Q. Have you met with Ilya yet?
NIKOLAEV: "No, we only spoke on the phone. The thing is that I am not in Moscow right now. His mood is absolutely fine."
Did SKA's Chairman of the Board Alexander Medvedev contact you?
"There were calls from SKA, but not from Alexander [Medvedev], but from the club's general manager Andrei Tochitskiy."
What options did [the club] offer?
"Everything is up to Ilya: anything from one to eight years. I like the fact that SKA is holding the solid position they took from the very beginning of the negotiations. Regardless of what is going on in America. I like how the team management is acting in this negotiation process. They are very straight. No one is trying to blackmail us. There is a position -- 'it's your choice.' If we want to change something, that's fine to [change] it either way. It's very flexible and right."
Apart from SKA, did anyone from the KHL contact you?
Will everything depend now on how the new negotiations with NHL clubs will turn out?
"I cannot say because I simply don't know. Ilya and I shortly discussed how things are, but we have not elaborated on the topic of negotiations yet."
SKA's general manager Andrei Tochitskiy confirmed this information to Sovetsky Sport: "We are not backing away from the offer we made to Kovalchuk earlier."
Is the proposed length of the contract from one to eight years?
"If we exceed the salary cap, we will pay the "luxury tax" to the league in accordance with regulations."
Do you personally feel that Kovalchuk is in principle interested in a contract in Russia?
"If there was no interest, this whole story with his new contract from the very beginning wouldn't have been complex and long. Therefore, I think, there was an interest. A different question is whether [the interest] is still there now. But it is better to ask Ilya himself and his representatives."
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In the meantime, Kovalchuk is getting ready for the upcoming season with his personal trainer Alexander Troshin. According to Kovalchuk's mother, the family expects the contract to be reworked to comply with the arbitrator's recommendations. As for when Kovalchuk's future will finally be decided she said "I am not sure even Ilya can answer this question..."
And so the wait continues. But I don't think anyone will be surprised if there is another twist in this story.