Ilya Kovalchuk, retired from the NHL in 2013 and has been playing in the KHL (Russian league) ever since. But now it appears he's interested in returning to North America.
Kovalchuk was just three years into a 15-year, $100 million contract with the Devils when he left for the KHL but that contract was voided when he left, however the Devils still own his rights until he turns 35 years old.
New Jersey stated, they are willing to work with him to find a new team. Bob McKenzie of TSN Sports notes the Devils won't just dump for nothing, they'll only make a move that "makes sense for New Jersey."
If Kovalchuk wants to return to the NHL this season, it would be through a sign-and-trade.
Should the Wild be interested?
Currently the Wild have $12 million in cap space but some of that money will likely be used to sign restricted free agents Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter plus other needs.
But after five years with the same core and only two playoff series wins to show for it, would Minnesota be willing to trade one of their younger forwards plus other prospects for the rights to obtain the 34-year-old veteran?
In 12 NHL seasons, Kovalchuk scored 30-plus goals in nine of his 12 seasons and he proved his still has his touch, scoring 32 goals last season in the KHL.
Although Minnesota had plenty of depth last year, no one hit the 30-goal mark and they need a true goal scorer, which is exactly what Kovalchuk brings despite his age.
There's a lot of moving and shaking to endure, but it appears the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes are definitely on and the State of Hockey should take notice.