Ilya Kovalchuk makes return to KHL side for second-round series

Photo by Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images
Photo by Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images

While Ilya Kovalchuk’s KHL future has many questions left to be answered, the forward was back in the SKA lineup on Monday as they defeated Dynamo Moscow 3-2 to take Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

Kovalchuk played 15:35 on SKA’s second line and registered one shot and zero points.

Two weeks ago, SKA head coach Sergei Zubov stripped Kovalchuk of the captaincy and benched the star forward for the final four games of their first-round series. That led to speculaton that the soon-to-be 33-year-old’s days in the KHL were over with and he may be making an NHL return.

SKA reportedly offered Kovalchuk $1 million to terminate his deal on April 1, but now it appears both sides have agreed to revisit the situation after April 30.

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Coming back to the NHL wouldn’t be a simple process for Kovalchuk as we detailed. The New Jersey Devils hold his rights, and while Kovalchuk’s agent said he had spoke to one NHL general manager about a comeback, Ray Shero said last week that no one’s talked to him about it. It’s a very “complicated situation,” as NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly put it recently.

For now, Kovalchuk remains in the KHL and his coach said he was pleased with his performance in Game 1. We'll see how this story develops whenever SKA's season comes to an end.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!