In the end, Ilya Kovalchuk determined that his chances to win a Stanley Cup were greater in North Jersey than in Southern California.
The money he’s due to receive would look good anywhere.
The premier player on the free agent market agreed to a 17-year, $102 million deal with the Devils yesterday, capping a near month-long process which was marked by speculation. The Devils will hold a press conference this afternoon at The Prudential Center to announce the signing.
“Ilya is excited to be continuing his career with New Jersey and knows first-hand the team’s dedication and commitment to winning,” Jay Grossman said in a statement released by Puck Agency, which represents Kovalchuk.
The re-signing of the 27-year-old left wing is the crowning achievement of Lou Lamoriello’s summer. The Devils’ President and GM hired John MacLean to be the 16th coach in franchise history; re-signed RFA wing David Clarkson; traded for centerman Jason Arnott; and signed free agent defensemen Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder, and goaltender Johan Hedberg. Volchenkov, Hedberg and Kovalchuk are represented by Puck Agency.
Los Angeles, the Islanders and, reportedly, SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL were involved in the bidding for Kovalchuk. It was believed that the Islanders had prepared a 10-year, $100 million offer. The Kings and Kovalchuk’s representatives had off-and-on negotiations for two weeks.
There was a published mid-day report on July 5 that said the Devils were going to announce that the organization had re-signed Kovalchuk. Grossman wrote on Twitter that “Ilya Kovalchuk looking to make decision on his future today.” The pact had not signed by the end of the day and Grossman tweeted that “Ilya Kovalchuk choices have been narrowed down, details to be finalized but no announcement tonight.”
The Devils had acquired Kovalchuk, defenseman Anssi Salmela and a second round pick from Atlanta in February. He recorded 27 points (10 goals and 17 assists) in 27 games with the Devils. Entering his ninth NHL season, Kovalchuk has recorded 642 points (338 goals and 304 assists) in 621 assists. He has scored eight points (three goals and five assists) in nine playoff games. Kovalchuk was the Devils’ best player in the first round playoff loss to Philadelphia, as he scored six points in five games.
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