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Ilya Kovalchuk told Russia's Sports.Ru Friday he has no agreement in place with any NHL team, and has yet to even talk to any of the league’s franchises.
The former New Jersey Devils winger declared his intentions to return to the NHL earlier this week after SKA St. Petersburg was eliminated from the KHL playoffs. Reports out of Russia claimed Kovalchuk had reached a deal with the New York Rangers.
"I got a lot of friends called. Ask, congratulate," Kovalchuk said of the rumours, per Google translate. "I answer: That's how the press in Russia works great, that I have already signed the contract, and the number of years, and the team found... In fact, I have not had any talks with anyone else.”
Kovalchuk is not eligible to begin negotiations with any team until Sunday, when he turns 35. He can agree to a contract at that point, but will not be able to sign until July 1.
The Rangers have been speculated as Kovalchuk’s most likely landing spot for close to a year, but he told Sports.Ru team success will be a factor in his decision. The Rangers missed the playoffs for just the second time in 13 years this season and publicly announced their intentions to rebuild.
"Of course, the sporting result comes first," Kovalchuk said. "…Everything must be considered. But before July 1 there is still a lot of time. We will sit, decide."
Kovalchuk scored 32 goals and posted 65 points in 55 games with SKA St. Petersburg this season. He said last month he would not be able to forgive himself if he didn't try to win the Stanley Cup during his playing career.