Kings place Kovalchuk on unconditional waivers, terminate contract

Thomas WilliamsHockey writer
Yahoo Sports Canada
The 36-year-old will not be in Los Angeles for much longer. (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire)
The 36-year-old will not be in Los Angeles for much longer. (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire)

The Los Angeles Kings have placed veteran winger Ilya Kovalchuk on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.

Kovalchuk’s contract runs through the 2020-21 regular season with a cap hit of $6.25 million, which the Kings will still be held responsible for, but will not have to pay the forward any salary remaining on the deal. He received $2.65-million bonuses on Sunday and before the regular season began. By terminating his deal, Kovalchuk will sacrifice around $400,000 in salary this season and $4.25 million next year.

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The 36-year-old has not appeared in a game since Nov. 9, but he has still continued to practice and travel with the team.

Los Angeles and Kovalchuk has been in a standoff since his disappointing on-ice play after signing his three-year, $18.75-million deal last summer. During his time as a King, Kovalchuk has scored 19 goals and 43 points through 81 game.

Luckily for him, he will now be an unrestricted free agent — free to remain in the NHL, or return to the KHL, where he reportedly has an offer from one team.

Unfortunately for the Kings, they will now have the remaining cap hits of Kovalchuk, Dion Phanuef and Mike Richards to symbolize their poor financial decisions. Almost $10 million this season and over $11 million next season in cap space sacrificed to players that are no longer on the roster.

Kovalchuk has had one of the most rollercoaster careers in the recent history of the NHL. Once a guaranteed Hall-of-Famer during his time in Atlanta and New Jersey, he left the NHL and headed to Russia after his contractual scandal.

Through 897 games and 13 years in the NHL, Kovalchuk has scored 436 goals and 859 points, including a Rocket Richard Trophy and a few top-10 Hart Trophy finishes.

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