The former first overall draft pick of the Atlanta Thrashers, Ilya Kovalchuk played 11 seasons in the NHL. He announced his retirement from the NHL on Thursday. Kovalchuk will be returning to Russia to play in the KHL.
Kovalchuk spent seven and a half with the Atlanta Thrashers. Kovalchuk was a proven scole scorer and playmaker. He had five 40+ goal seasons in a row while in Atlanta. The Devils traded for him on the last season of his contract and resigned him to a 17 year contract, but the NHL stepped in and made the Devils shorten the deal. In the end, Kovalchuk signed a 15 year, $100,000,000 contract.
Kovalchuk spent three and a half seasons in New Jersey. He only played out three seasons of his 15 year contract. The Devils will have a cap hit of $250,000 for the following 12 seasons. It seems the Devils may be in trouble now even with such a small cap hit. Kovalchuk didn’t do them any favors by announcing this before free agency started.