The Columbus Blue Jackets have interest in Russian forward and former NHLer Ilya Kovalchuk, according to team president John Davidson.
“I think there’s interest,” Davidson said during a guest spot on Prime Time Sports Tuesday afternoon on Sportsnet 590 The FAN. “I don’t know where it’s going to go.”
Kovalchuk scored 417 goals during an 11-year NHL career spent with the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils. He signed a 15-year, $100-million deal with the Devils in 2010, but announced his retirement from the league three years later, stating a desire to return to Russia.
He’s since played five seasons with SKA St. Petersburg, but there have been recent reports that he’s considering a return to North America.
The Devils still hold his NHL rights, which means they could either sign the 34-year-old if he opts to return to the NHL, or conduct a sign-and-trade. Neither option can be done before July 1, but both will require full co-operation from both parties.
“I actually had a discussion with Jay Grossman, his agent, today and I told him we’ll be in discussions and Jarmo [Kekalainen] our general manager will be making the decisions,” said Davidson.
The Blue Jackets are coming off their most successful regular season in franchise history, winning 50 games and tallying 108 points. It’s been a busy off-season thus far for Davidson and Co. as the club recently acquired high-scoring winger Artemi Panarin from the Chicago Blackhawks in a trade for Brandon Saad.
“We’re looking at our team and there’s still trades to be made,” said Davidson. “There’s free agents to be signed. We’re trying to get better. We’re trying to fill certain holes. And we’ll figure it out.”