Odds on Which NHL Team Will Sign Ilya Kovalchuk in Free Agency

Ilya Kovalchuk hasn’t played at the NHL since departing North America in favor of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League at 2013, but the celebrity left-winger is set to make his return to the very best hockey league on the planet this summer as an unrestricted free agent.
If it comes to the odds on where Kovalchuk will land, online sportsbook BetOnline has tabbed the New York Rangers as the +200 front-runners, together with the Los Angeles Kings (+250), San Jose Sharks (+300), New York Islanders (+400), New Jersey Devils (+600) and Carolina Hurricanes (+1000) also readily available to bet on.
Kovalchuk gets a blank slate
At 35, it’s no secret Kovalchuk is beyond his prime, but he’ll be a hot commodity in free service irrespective of his era. The Russian established himself as among the most prolific goal scorers in the NHL in his 11 decades, compiling 417 aims and 399 aids in 816 career games. Kovalchuk spent his first eight seasons with the now-defunct Atlanta Thrashers before continuing on to the New Jersey Devils.
Kovalchuk’s time with the Devils was shrouded in controversy, but as his first contract with the team was shut down by the NHL for salary cap circumvention. Soon after, the Devils inked him to some front-loaded 15-year, $100-million deal in 2010. Kovalchuk decided to”retire” three years to the contract to go back home and play for SKA St. Petersburg, walking away from $77 million due to him from the Devils. New Jersey retained his rights until he turned 35 in April and became a free agent.
Which team has the interior edge to signal the sniper?
According to Darren Dreger of TSN, Kovalchuk is expected to fetch a contract term of 3 years with an average yearly value of $6 million annually. Kovalchuk’s main priority is reportedly winning a Stanley Cup, so expect him to be picky about an expected destination. He finished a California tour June 9 and 10, meeting with the Sharks and Kings — both valid Stanley Cup contenders.
While it’s clear to see the Devils on the board at +600, there’s simply too much bad blood between both sides for Kovalchuk to be reunited with his former staff, in my opinion. Packed with cap distance and needing an injection of talent, the Rangers make sense as the favorites, but the value on the Sharks and Kings makes each of them an intriguing option.
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