While the NHL trade deadline dominated hockey news in North America Monday, over in Europe a temporary resolution was reached in the drama surrounding Ilya Kovalchuk.
Kovalchuk is done suiting up for the 2016 KHL playoffs but will remain under contract with SKA St. Petersburg until at least April 30, according to multiple reports.
Kovalchuk, 32, still has one more season remaining on his contract with the Russian club, but threatened to return to North America after the coaching staff removed him from the team and stripped him of his captaincy during its first-round playoff series versus Lokomotiv.
SKA reportedly offered Kovalchuk a compensation of $1 million if he agreed to terminate his contract after April 1. Discussions are ongoing.
After losing its first game to Lokomotiv with Kovlachuk in the lineup, SKA won four straight games sans Kovalchuk and advanced to the second round Monday.
Kovalchuk’s agent met with reporters in Russia and said he hasn’t had a serious conversation with any NHL general manager regarding his client’s return, but did talk to one about possible Kovalchuk’s possible arrival.
Kovlachuk helped lead SKA to its first Gagarin Cup in 2015 and was named MVP of the playoffs but has taken a step back this season. He finished 12th overall in league scoring (16 goals, 33 assists) and was a minus player for the first time in his KHL career.
As for a potential return to North America, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly addressed the issue when Kovalchuk retired in 2013.
“It would require unanimous consent at any point at which the player tries to return to the League without having been out of professional hockey [anywhere in the world] for a full calendar year,” Daly told the New York Post. “Once he sits out for a full calendar year, he can only come back with the Devils’ consent.”