Montreal Canadiens sign Ilya Kovalchuk to 1-year deal

Ailish ForfarNHL Editor
Yahoo Sports Canada
Ilya Kovalchuk is headed to Montreal. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Ilya Kovalchuk is headed to Montreal. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Montreal Canadiens have signed 36-year-old free agent Ilya Kovalchuk to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700,000 at the NHL level and $70,000 in the AHL level, the team announced Friday.

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Kovalchuk last played an NHL game with the LA Kings on Nov. 9, 2019, before he was placed on unconditional waivers and bought out of his contract following a largely unproductive tenure in Los Angeles. 

The Russian forward officially retired from the NHL in July of 2013, played a few seasons in the KHL, and then returned to the NHL with the Kings in 2018 on a three-year, $18.75M contract. 

Montreal, clearly desperate, are riding a four-game losing streak which has dropped them to 6th in the Atlantic with a 18-17-6 record. After losing another player to injury this week when Brendan Gallagher suffered a concussion, the Canadiens are now without Gallagher, Jonathan Drouin (tendon), Joel Armia (hand) and Paul Byron (knee). 

The team made a few moves on Thursday to allow for the Kovalchuk signing, trading Mike Reilly to the Ottawa Senators and acquiring Marco Scandella from the Buffalo Sabres. 

This latest signing of Kovalchuk will only cost the Canadiens $350K in actual salary, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnson.

Kovalchuk has played in 897 career NHL games, recording 436 goals and 859 points with the Atlanta Thrashers, New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings.

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