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Ilya Kovalchuk not returning to NHL, will remain in KHL for 2017-18 season

By The Sports Xchange
Former New Jersey Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk reacts after he scores the game winning goal in overtime against the Washington Capitals at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ on January 25, 2013. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/dfee8d84065a372997155ce0ba273837/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Former New Jersey Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk reacts after he scores the game winning goal in overtime against the Washington Capitals at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ on January 25, 2013. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Despite reports that Ilya Kovalchuk was considering a return to the NHL, he will remain in the KHL for at least one more season.

Reports that were more recent indicated Kovalchuk would return to Russia, and the KHL announced Sunday that Kovalchuk will remain with St. Petersburg SKA for the 2017-18 season.

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St. Petersburg SKA announced that Kovalchuk signed a one-year contract, which means he could return to the NHL for the 2018-19 season if he chooses.

He turns 35 next April, and he could sign with any NHL team.

Kovalchuk played 11 seasons in the NHL, starting as an 18-year-old with Atlanta in 2001-02. His final NHL season was 2012-13 with the New Jersey Devils, and he collected 11 goals and 20 assists in 37 games with the Devils that season.

Kovalchuk played the last four seasons with St. Petersburg.

A desire to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics may have been a factor in Kovalchuk's decision to stay in the KHL. The NHL is not allowing its players to participate in the 2018 Olympics, but the KHL is.

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