Devils will reach out to Ilya Kovalchuk regarding NHL return

Ilya Kovalchuk
Ilya Kovalchuk’s path to a potential return to the NHL goes through the New Jersey Devils.

With former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk recently revealing his desire to return to the league next season, it’s time for the sweepstakes to begin.

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But before the bidding does start, the New Jersey Devils, who currently own Kovalchuk’s rights, must grasp a clear understanding of Kovalchuk’s intentions.

General manager Ray Shero confirmed with Sportsnet’s John Shannon prior to the draft lottery on Saturday that the two sides will soon talk.

“I plan to reach out next week maybe to his agent … I’ll reach out next week and see if there’s any substance to the speculation of Ilya coming back,” said Shero in the Facebook Live interview.

Kovalchuk was under contract with New Jersey when he signed his retirement papers in 2013. This leaves him free to return to the Devils, but he must receive approval from all 30 NHL clubs if he wishes to play for another team. He can’t be traded, either, unless he signs a deal with New Jersey first.

The two-time NHL All Star’s contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL expired at the end of the season after his club won the Gagarin Cup earlier this month.

Kovalchuk had 816 including 417 goals in 816 career NHL games prior to leaving for Russia.

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