Ilya Kovalchuk staying in KHL?

Bruce Bennett

New Jersey Devils star forward Ilya Kovalchuk has yet to make plans to return to North America. is he planning on staying in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League?

With the NHL lockout all but officially over, players who spent any of the last 113 days playing overseas are expected to start migrating back to North America to began training for a condensed 48-game schedule.

Some have already returned home, while others are slowly making there way back.

New Jersey Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk, however, has yet to make any plans to return at all.

According to a report by Slava Malamud of Sports Express, Kovalchuk stated that he will need to read the new collective bargaining agreement before deciding what he will do next.

Since the NHL and NHL Players Association agreed on the framework of a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement, rumors have circulated that KHL teams have tried to entice NHL stars to stay with their clubs for the remainder of the season.

With several players, most notably Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, stating earlier in the lockout that they might be inclined to pursue such a course of action, the threat has always lived on the fringes of the labor negotiations.

Of course, with the KHL already confirming to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly that the league plans to respect the memorandum of understanding between the two leagues, the reality of players actually staying overseas appears unrealistic.

However, until Kovalchuk returns to North America, no one can truly say what the outcome will be.

According to Bob McKenzie of TSN and Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record, the Devils have yet to be informed that Kovalchuk does not plan to return to the team. He will be entering the third-year of a $100 million contract this season.

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