Kings agree to terms with Ilya Kovalchuk to 3-year-deal

The Golden Knights were reportedly in the running for the Russian superstar, who returns to the NHL after a lengthy absence.

The Los Angeles Kings have agreed to terms with superstar goal scorer Ilya Kovalchuk to a three-year deal, the team announced Saturday.

The announcement came during the early stages of the second round of the NHL Draft. The Vegas Golden Knights had been reportedly in the running for Kovalchuk, 35, who has not played in the NHL since the 2012-13 season with the New Jersey Devils.

Kovalchuk led the KHL in scoring with 63 points (31 goals, 32 assists) and led SKA St. Petersburg to the Western Conference Final.

Kovalchuk was the No. 1 pick in the 2001 NHL Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers, scoring 328 goals in eight years and scored 52 goals in a season twice. The 2004 Maurice Richard winner was traded to the Devils in 2010 and signed the most ridiculous contract in NHL history, a 15-year, $100 million. He retired three years later in order to play in Russia, leaving $77 million and 12 years remaining on his deal.

There could be a best-selling book one day to document that whole ridiculousness. Nevertheless, Kovalchuk was reportedly on the Golden Knights’ radar, according to Darren Dreger of TSN. Vegas’ fellow Pacific Division rivals, the San Jose Sharks, were also reportedly in the running for Kovalchuk.

Vegas’ sights in free agency are set much higher than a 35-year-old Kovalchuk, but the intrigue of adding Kovalchuk to the Golden Knights’ offense would have been intriguing. It wouldn’t have been surprising if Los Angeles promised him top-six minutes, considering he’s reportedly going to make an AAV of $6.25 million, according to Bob McKenzie. Vegas had the money, but probably not the role.

Either way, Ilya’s back. He looked really good in the Winter Olympics, helping Russia win a gold medal. The Kings also got some much-needed offense. This should be fun.