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Kovalchuk, 40, signs in KHL after two-year hiatus

Ilya Kovalchuk Ilya Kovalchuk - Getty Images

Ilya Kovalchuk is returning to the KHL after two years off the ice.

The 40-year-old forward signed with Spartak Moscow for the remainder of the 2023-24 season on Wednesday.

Kovalchuk last played with Omsk Avangard during the 2020-21 season, posting five goals and 17 points in 16 games. He added four goals and nine points in 24 playoff games as Omsk won their first Gagarin Cup.

Selected first overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, Kovalchuk appeared in 926 games over 15 seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers, New Jersey DevilsLos Angeles KingsMontreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals. He notched 443 career goals, hitting the 50-goal mark twice and sharing the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2004 with Rick Nash and Jarome Iginla as the league’s top scorer.

This will mark Kovalchuk's fourth KHL stint, having first joined the league during the 2012 NHL lockout. He returned to Russia less than a year later after announcing his retirement from the NHL in July of 2013, just three years into a blockbuster 15-year, $101 million contract with the Devils. He returned to the NHL from 2018-2020, playing with the Kings, Canadiens and Capitals.