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

Ilya Kovalchuk has not played in the NHL since leaving North America in favour 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 a unrestricted free agent.
If it comes to the odds on where Kovalchuk will property, on line sportsbook BetOnline has tabbed the New York Rangers since the +200 front-runners, with the Los Angeles Kings (+250), San Jose Sharks (+300), New York Islanders (+400), New Jersey Devils (+600) and Carolina Hurricanes (+1000) also available to bet on.
Kovalchuk gets a blank slate
At 35, it is no secret Kovalchuk is beyond his prime, but he will be a hot commodity at no agency irrespective of his age. The Russian established himself as among the most prolific goal scorers in the NHL in his 11 years, compiling 417 goals and 399 aids in 816 career matches. Kovalchuk spent his first eight seasons with an now-defunct Atlanta Thrashers prior to moving on to the New Jersey Devils.
Kovalchuk’s time with the Devils was shrouded in controversy, but as his first contract with the club was closed down by the NHL for salary cap circumvention. Soon after, the Devils inked him into some front-loaded 15-year, $100-million bargain in 2010. Kovalchuk chose to”retire” three years into the contract to go back home and play SKA St. Petersburg, walking away from $77 million due to him from the Devils. New Jersey retained his rights before he turned 35 in April and became a free agent.
Which team gets the interior edge to sign the sniper?
According to Darren Dreger of TSN, Kovalchuk is expected to bring a contract term of three years with a mean yearly value of $6 million per season. Kovalchuk’s most important priority is winning a Stanley Cup, so expect him to be picky about a potential destination. He completed a California tour June 9 and 10, meeting with the Sharks and Kings — equally valid Stanley Cup contenders.
While it’s understandable to see that the Devils on the board at +600, there’s just too much bad blood between both sides for Kovalchuk to be reunited with his former team, in my opinion. Loaded with cap distance and in need of an injection of gift, the Rangers make sense as the favorites, but the value on the Sharks and Kings makes each of them an interesting choice.
For more betting info on the ice, head to our NHL page.

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