Superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk could earn a substantial raise in his annual salary by signing with a club in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, according to a report by Pavel Lysenkov of SovSport.
Multiple accounts have indicated that Kovalchuk plans to sign with SKA St. Petersburg, the club he captained during the 2012 NHL lockout. According to Lysenkov, Kovalchuk could be paid anywhere from $15-$20 million per season with his new club. Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy writes that it's unclear whether the entirety of the payment will come under the KHL's salary cap or if some of it will be paid off the books. Puck Daddy contributor Dmitry Chesnokov adds that SKA could significantly front-load the deal in order to provide Kovalchuk with a sizable sum of money up front.
The 30-year-old superstar announced his retirement from the National Hockey League's New Jersey Devils on Thursday afternoon. He had 12 years and $77 million remaining on a 15-year, $100 million contract that began in the 2010-11 season. Kovalchuk earned $12 million over the first two years of the deal and a pro-rated $11 million in 2013, according to CapGeek.com.
Over the next six years, Kovalchuk was scheduled to be paid the following amounts, via CapGeek:
2013-14: $11.3 million
2014-15: $11.3 million
2015-16: $11.6 million
2016-17: $11.8 million
2017-18: $10 million
2018-19: $7 million
Those totals are the most lucrative years of his agreement.
It is expected that SKA will officially announce the signing of Kovalchuk on Monday.