Fantasy Impact: Ilya Kovalchuk announced his retirement from the NHL today. At the age of 30, Kovalchuk will go down as one of the best pure scorers in the history of the game.
The Devils lose:
One of the best forwards (and, more recently, two-way forwards) in hockey. Kovalchuk is big and strong, and he is also incredibly elusive. His one-timer is rivaled by only a handful of players, and he was the Captain and (by far) best player on the Devils roster. Not many players have combined power (he played at over 230 pounds) and finesse better than Kovalchuk in the history of the sport.
The cap recapture penalty (because of Kovalchuk's back-diving contract) will hit New Jersey to the tune of $250,000 through the 2024-25 season. If Kovalchuk had retired next summer, that amount would have jumped up to $700,000.
While he will get paid a lot of money to go over and play in the KHL, this wasn't a financial decision. He is leaving close to $80 million on the table here. This is obviously the case of a player who wants to return home to raise his family and live in an environment he is more comfortable with.
Kovalchuk would have eclipsed the 500 goal mark within the next few years (and he would perhaps be there already if not for the previous two lockouts). He will be missed by the Devils and NHL fans in general – don’t forget, Kovalchuk is only a year removed from leading the NHL postseason in scoring.
And while the Devils get a lot of cap space