If the NHL, the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk's camp are unable to come to a resolution quickly, do not expect to see the star sniper hit the ice on North American soil this season.
In an interview with Russian newspaper SovSport, Kovalchuk's Russian agent Yuri Nikolaev stated that if his client ends up signing with the KHL, he will spend at least a full season playing in his homeland.
When Kovalchuk was negotiating a new contract with the Atlanta Thrashers prior to the 2005-06 season, he signed a deal with Khimik Voskresensk of what was then called the Russian League. Prior to the season the team moved to Mytischi where Kovalchuk played 11 games, scoring eight goals and adding five assists before coming to terms with the Thrashers on a new multi-year contract to return to Atlanta.
While his contract with Khimik at the time had an "NHL out clause," Nikolaev told SovSports that his client would not return to the NHL this season if he chooses to sign in Russia.
Nikolaev also confirmed that a resolution is near and a decision on where his client will play this season will be determined in the next 48 hours.
The KHL season opens September 8th while Devils training camp opens later in the month on the 17th.