Kovalchuk eyes return to NHL next season

Reuters

Ilya Kovalchuk, who walked away from the NHL five years ago, says he wants to return to the league next season.

Kovalchuk initially returned to Russia during the 2012-13 NHL lockout, playing for SKA Saint Petersburg.

He returned shortly after the lockout ended, but in July 2013, the 30-year-old decided to quit the NHL and play full-time in Russia.

Kovalchuk had 12 years and $77 million left on his New Jersey Devils contract when he left.

He signed a four-year deal with SKA Saint Petersburg in 2013. He's won two KHL titles in that span.

In last month's Winter Olympics, Kovalchuk added another piece of hardware -- a gold medal -- to his collection, which might have prompted his desire to return to the NHL and chase a Stanley Cup title.

"I won't forgive myself for it when I get older," he reportedly told Russia's state sports channel about returning to the NHL.

The left winger, who turns 35 in April, was the No. 1 overall pick of the Atlanta Thrashers in 2001. He finished second to teammate Dany Heatley in rookie of the year voting that season, despite Kovalchuk missing the final 17 games with an injury.

In 12 seasons in the NHL, Kovalchuk has 417 goals and 399 assists. He made the All-Star team in 10 of those seasons.

--Field Level Media

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