Ilya Kovalchuk likely to return to Devils for 2013 season

Jim McIsaac

The Ilya Kovalchuk saga appears to be coming to a close.

New Jersey Devils star forward Ilya Kovalchuk will likely be returning to North America following Russia's Kontinental Hockey League All-Star Game on Sunday.

The head coach of Kovalchuk's KHL club, SKA St. Petersburg, stated on Friday that the talented forward had likely played his final game with the club on Thursday. In addition, Slava Malamud of Sports-Express tweeted that Kovalchuk's family is currently in the United States, which he believes is a strong indication that he will be returning to the US.

St. Petersburg's general manager stated that an official announcement regarding Kovalchuk's future will be made on Saturday.

As of Thursday night, the Devils had stated that they have yet to speak with Kovalchuk and general manager Lou Lamoriello was tight-lipped about the situation (as is tradition).

However, several of his teammates expressed their opinions regarding the situation and the majority of them were understanding. Goaltender Martin Brodeur and forward Adam Henrique downplayed the possibility of Kovalchuk missing the beginning of camp, stating that he was probably in the best shape of anyone given the amount of hockey he had been playing.

Patrick Elias expressed that he thinks Kovalchuk should be at camp on time and didn't seem to be too pleased with the chance of any other outcome.

Regardless, it appears he will be on his way back and might be leaving Russia as early as Monday.

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