The LA Kings have agreed to terms with Ilya Kovalchuk on a three-year contract. The signing of the contract can not officially be announced until July 1, but a team source confirmed Elliotte Friedman’s report that the average annual value of the contract is $6.25-million.
Kovalchuk, 35, totaled 31 goals and 63 points in 53 games with KHL-SKA St. Petersburg last season. He won a gold medal with the Olympic Athletes from Russia at the PyeongChang games, where he was named the media’s tournament MVP. In 816 career NHL games with Atlanta and New Jersey from 2001-13, the 2001 first overall pick accumulated 417 goals and 816 points.
Kovalchuk’s signing is part of a concerted push by Rob Blake and Los Angeles to acquire offense. Though the Kings engineered a regular season jump of .45 goals per game from 2016-17 to 2017-18, a four-game playoff defeat to Vegas in which they scored three goals looms large and signaled what the team’s focus would be over the off-season.
More information to come. This story will continue to be updated.
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings and forward Ilya Kovalchuk have agreed to terms on a three-year contract, Kings Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake announced today.
“We are excited to add Ilya to the LA Kings organization. He gives us an added element of skill and scoring along with a desire to win. We will withhold further comment until July 1,” said Blake.
The 35-year-old Kovalchuk (born April 15, 1983) is a 6-3, 230-pound native of Tver, Russia who appeared in 53 regular-season games this past season with SKA St. Petersburg (KHL), recording 63 points (31-32=63), 26 penalty minutes and a plus-12 rating. He led the KHL in points, ranked second in goals, fifth in assists and tied for third in game-winning goals (6). He helped lead SKA to the Western Conference Final before falling to CSKA. He tallied 10 points in 15 postseason games (6-4=10), 12 penalty minutes and a plus-5 rating.
Kovalchuk last appeared in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils during the 2012-13 season. A first overall selection of the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Kovalchuk was a point-per-game player, appearing in 816 regular-season games with the Thrashers and Devils, posting 816 points (417-399=816) and 516 penalty minutes. From 2001 to 2013, no active player scored more goals than Kovalchuk’s 417. He has had two 50-plus goal seasons, and cleared the 40-goal plateau six consecutive years (2003-04 to 2009-10). His 0.51 goals-per-game percentage ranks 18th all-time in league history.
During his 11 NHL seasons, he tied for the Maurice Richard Trophy once (2003-04), was selected to three All-Star games (2003-04, 2007-08 and 2008-09), was selected as a First Team All-Star in 2011-12 and a Second Team All-Star in 2003-04.
Since leaving the NHL, he has appeared in 262 regular-season games over the past five season (all with SKA), posting 285 points (120-165=285), 204 penalty minutes and a plus-43 rating. He served as the team captain for his first three seasons, and took home the Gagarin Cup (league championship) twice during his five year run (2014-15 and 2016-17). He was also the Gagarin Cup MVP in 2015.
Internationally, he has represented Russia (or recently the Olympic Athletes of Russia) on multiple occasions. He has appeared in five Olympic games, including the most recent games in South Korea, where he helped OAR take home the gold medal and was named the tournament MVP. He also led Russia to a bronze medal in 2002. Kovalchuk has appeared in 10 World Championships during his career, and he led his country to back-to-back gold medals at the 2008 and 2009 World Championships. In 2009, he was named the tournament’s best forward and the tournament’s MVP. In addition to the back-to-back gold medals, Kovalchuk also has won two silver medals (2015 and 2010) and two bronze medals (2007 and 2005) with Russia. He led Russia’s U18 World Junior team to a gold medal in 2001 and a silver medal in 2000 and he also participated in the World Junior Championships in 2001, recording six points (4-2=6) in seven games with Russia finishing fifth in that tournament.
-Lead photo via Bruce Bennett/Getty Images