Reports out of Russia have indicated Ilya Kovalchuk may have changed his mind and decided to stay in the KHL, but New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero shot down those reports on Wednesday.
Speaking to Leafs Lunch on TSN 1050, Shero acknowledged he had heard those reports but said Kovalchuk's agent, Jay Grossman, had assured him and likely other teams that those rumours are not true and Kovalchuk still plans to play in the KHL next season.
Shero admitted that the Kovalchuk situation is mostly out of his hands as he waits for Grossman to find Kovalchuk a contract with a team, who will then contact him to make a trade.
Shero said that the week after the NHL entry draft was a likely timeline for things to heat up, since most general managers are currently focused on expansion and Kovalchuk cannot sign, or therefore be traded, until July 1.
The 34-year-old has spent the past four seasons in the KHL with St. Petersburg SKA. He finished with 32 goals and 46 assists in 60 games last season, his best in Russia, and has 89 goals and 133 assists in 209 KHL games since leaving the Devils after the 2012-13 season.
The New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks are among the teams reported to be interested in the Russian winger.
In 816 NHL games, the 2001 first overall pick has 417 goals and 399 assists.