Kings place forward Ilya Kovalchuk on unconditional waivers

Los Angeles Kings left wing Ilya Kovalchuk, of Russia, waits during a television timeout during the first period of the team's NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in Newark, N.J. (Julio Cortez/AP)

The Los Angeles Kings have placed veteran forward Ilya Kovalchuk on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract, the team announced on Monday.

This comes one day after Kovalchuk was due a final $2.65 million bonus from the Kings which means his remaining salary for the season is the league-minimum of $700,000.

The 36-year-old has three goals and nine points in 17 games this season but hasn’t played since Nov. 9. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman originally reported on Nov. 12 that the Kings had informed Kovalchuk he would be “out of the lineup for the foreseeable future” and a mutual parting of ways has been expected ever since.

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

This is Kovalchuk’s second season with the Kings since signing a three-year, $18.75-million contract with the club in 2018 following five years in the KHL. Because Kovalchuk was 35 at the time of the signing, his $6.25-million cap hit stays on L.A.’s books regardless of what happens, essentially making it buyout-proof as far as the cap hit is concerned.

After starting strong with the Kings in 2018-19, the Russian winger finished the campaign with 16 goals and 34 points in 64 games. He saw his playing time shrink over the course of the campaign, was scratched a handful of times down the stretch, and publicly disagreed with then-head coach Willie Desjardins’s lineup decisions.


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