Kovalchuk Retires From NHL, Signs with KHL's SKA St. Petersburg

1:32 PM

By Chris Doud

Mid summer fireworks are always fun. Typically in Jersey each Wednesday down in Seaside they light them up for the masses. However last week the sparks provided by New Jersey Devils superstar Ilya Kovalchuk were not the type many Devils fans were hoping for.  A stunning decision by the 30 year old winger to retire from the NHL and return to his homeland sent shock waves through the hockey world (and the state) last week as he announced he would be returning to Russia to be closer to his family and play for the KHL'S SKA St. Petersberg. 

Many incensed fans took to various social media outlets to vent their outrage and frustration on the loss of yet another star player from their roster, some even posting pictures of Kovalchuk jerseys burned in effigy. The timing of this nefarious transaction could not have come at a worse time seeing as the franchise lost power forward David Clarkson to free agency a week prior when he signed a 7 year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.  It also comes in the wake of the franchise losing its previous captain and American hero Zach Parise to a $98 Million deal with Minnesota last year, 2 years after the Devils committed $100 Million and 15 years to Kovalchuk.  New Jersey received a penalty the Russian sniper's contract which was deemed to be in circumvention of the former CBA in the form of forfeiture of a first round draft choice in either the 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014 entry draft.  With the club choosing to defer the penalty each year, his is now are left without the world class goal-getter as well as devoid of a top round selection in next summer's grab bag of amateur talent.  

While Devils President and General Manager Lou Lamorillo has been graced with a bounty of cap space upon the departure of Kovalchuk, it will be tough to fill the void left by the prolific winger.  Depending on the questionable financial stability of team owner Jeff VanderBeek, the Devils can be expected to be major players in free agency in the coming years.  

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