Russian Revival?

While it appears as though Evgeni Nabokov’s days in the NHL are over, could Ilya Kovalchuk be not far behind the former San Jose Sharks goaltender on the road to Russia? While it’s little more than speculation and hearsay at this point, KHL club SKA may be close to signing the NHL’s most prized free agent to a deal on the heels of the Nabokov signing.

Doug Wilson let Nabokov know that he was no longer in the team’s plans a couple of weeks ago, but given the changing landscape of the goaltending market there was little interest in the 34-year old netminder. Kovalchuk, on the other hand is highly sought after by several NHL clubs, but has been little more than a sideshow since hitting the open market on July 1.

If Kovalchuk was to sign with SKA, he would be the biggest NHL superstar to jump ship to the KHL since the league’s inception in 2008. Although, the Los Angeles Times was reporting as recently as this morning that the Kings and GM Dean Lombardi had a renewed interest in inking the Russian winger to a deal. The Kings were unwilling to meet Kovalchuk’s desired terms of a $100 million deal, and it appears as though camp Kovy is preparing a counter-offer as early as Wednesday:

“His side is supposed to deliver a counterproposal to the Kings on Wednesday. It still might not work for the Kings because they are concerned about the average annual value and a ripple effect — mostly with what kind of jumping-off point a big deal for Kovalchuk will create for Drew Doughty, who has one season left on his entry-level deal.”

As the world turns, so does the continuing saga of Ilya Kovalchuk.