Ilya Kovalchuk clears unconditional waivers, becomes UFA


Kings forward Ilya Kovalchuk (17). (Jeff Swinger/AP)

Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk cleared waivers on Tuesday and is now an unrestricted free agent.

After being kept out of the Los Angeles Kings lineup since Nov. 12, Kovalchuk was placed on unconditional waivers on Monday, and now is free to sign with any NHL team.

Following a five-year stint in the KHL, the Kings signed Kovalchuk to a three-year, $18.75-million deal in 2018. The team will still carry his $6.25 million cap hit through this season and the next, because the Russian forward was 35 at the time of the signing.

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported on Saturday that Kovalchuk still believes he can be an offensive contributor in the NHL.

“The key thing to stress is he wants to play,” Johnston said during the Headlines segment of Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday. “He believes that he can help out a team offensively.”

The 36-year-old recorded three goals and nine points in 17 games this year. After receiving a team bonus of $2.65 million, his remaining salary for the season is the league-minimum of $700,000.

Despite this year’s struggles, Kovalchuk has a well-respected NHL career, with 436 goals in 897 games for the Atlanta Thrashers, New Jersey Devils and Kings.


When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.