The Contrarian – Ilya Kovalchuk and Expansion

Ian Gooding



What does Ilya Kovalchuk have to do with the rumored next NHL expansion?

Ilya Kovalchuk made some headlines over the last week or so. Sportsnet's Mike Johnston first reported on March 23 in his article titled "Report: Ilya Kovalchuk eyeing return to NHL" that Kovalchuk has told his KHL club that he would be interested in playing in the NHL in 2016-17. The problem is that his KHL contract expires on April 30, 2017.

Some people like's Josh Elliott speculate that since the value of the ruble has plummeted, Kovalchuk and a few others players might be looking to escape the uncertainty. They may feel more secure in knowing they have jobs and while earning more money.

Others just look at the rules that would allow or restrict Kovalchuk's return which are also noted in Johnston's article. Basically, he can return as an unrestricted player once he turns 35, or he can take a year off from any type of hockey and then seek to return as a New Jersey Devil (or be granted by the Devils for permission to play with another NHL club), or try to sign with any other club and get approval from all 30 teams.

It is all rather complex. Not by the individual rules, but just by all the circumstances that need to fall into place.

Then on March 25, Johnson follows up on the topic with his article "KHL denies Ilya Kovalchuk to NHL rumors". The KHL did exactly what was expected and denied the rumor was even true, but what I found funny was that Kovalchuk's mother claimed that all this was "nonsense".

Sounds exactly like when you were a kid and wanted to get a ball hockey game started. You would get a handful of guys and need one or two more to have enough for a game so you would knock on a few more doors. Kovalchuk would be the one guy where his mom would scol