After flirting with the Los Angeles Kings and returning to the Russian league KHL, Ilya Kovalchuk has decided he is a Jersey Boy after all. The high-scoring left wing ended 19 days of free agency and re-signed with the Devils this morning, according to the team.
Kovalchuk and Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello will hold a joint press conference tomorrow at the Prudential Center.
The 27-year-old Kovalchuk was the biggest free agent in this NHL class of unrestricted free agents and some think one of the biggest to ever hit the market in recent history.
Kovalchuk, who has twice scored 52 goals in a season, was looking for a long-term deal, according to sources. In February, he turned down a seven-year $70 million deal and a 12-year, $101 million deal to resign with the Thashers, the team that drafted him in 2001. He made $7.5 million last season.
No details of his deal with the Devils were immediately available.
After parts of eight seasons with the Thrashers, and after he turned down deals to resign, Kovalchuk was dealt to the Devils on February 4. He finished the season with the Devils, playing the final 27 regular season and five playoff games with the Devils.
Kovalchuk, who scored 10 goals and had 27 points with the Devils, had 41 points last season. After just one playoff appearance in his seven full seasons in Atlanta, Kovalchuk got his wish to return to the playoffs with the Devils. It didn’t last long, however. Kovalchuk scored two goals as the Devils were bounced in the first round by the eventual Eastern Conference champions, the Flyers.
The three-time All-Star has scored 338 goals in his eight seasons.
Kovalchuk, who officially became a free agent at noon on July 1, went to Los Angeles last week with his agent. Several reports had him close to signing with the Kings, but he left without a deal in hand. Over the weekend, Kovalchuk was said to be mulling his decision between the Devils, Kings and an offer from St. Petersburg of the KHL in his native Russia.