The LA Kings needed offense. Ilya Kovalchuk wanted to return to the NHL. The two decided it was the perfect it.
The 35-year-old Russian forward last appeared in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils during the 2012-13 season. That doesn’t mean his production slowed down.
While playing in the KHL for the past five seasons, Kovalchuk scored 120 goals and amassed 285 points in 262 games. He was named a KHL All-Star five times, won two League Titles, and earned MVP honors and a Gold Medal at the 2018 Olympics.
Before leaving the NHL to play in Russia, Kovalchuk tied for the Maurice Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal scorer once (2003-04), was selected to three All-Star games (2003-04, 2007-08 and 2008-09), was selected as a First Team All-Star in 2011-12 and a Second Team All-Star in 2003-04.
Most importantly, he knows how to score goals.
“He doesn’t miss a shot, so I’m excited to be feeding those,” Kings All-Star defenseman Drew Doughty said. “It’ll be nice to have a weapon on that left side, because we haven’t had that for a long time.”
From 2001 to 2013, no active player scored more goals than Kovalchuk's 417. He has had two 50-plus goal seasons and cleared the 40-goal plateau six consecutive years (2003-04 to 2009-10). His 0.51 goals-per-game percentage ranks 18th all-time in league history.