*Updated 4:27 ET* BREAKING: Ilya Kovalchuk Re… What?!?!

Devils_Kovalchuckred

BREAKING NEWS: New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk has decided to retire from the NHL. The Devils Communications Department’s official Twitter account, @NHLDevilsPR, first tweeted the announcement.

NHLDevilsPR ?@NHLDevilsPR

BREAKING: Ilya Kovalchuk has announced his retirement. #NJDevils #NHL

To all who believe this was a hack, David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod), confirmed it…

David Pagnotta ?@TheFourthPeriod

This is real, folks… Ilya Kovalchuk has officially retired from the NHL.

… as well as Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice):

Tom Gulitti ?@TGfireandice

Ilya Kovalchuk has announced his retirement. This is not a fake.

The 30-year old Russian signed a 15-year contract worth $100 million in the summer of 2010 and having only played 3 seasons after signing the deal, Kovalchuk leaves 12 years and $77 million on the table in order to head back to Russia with his family.

“This decision was something I have thought about for a long time going back to the lockout and spending the year in Russia. Though I decided to return this past season, Lou was aware of my desire to go back home and have my family there with me. The most difficult thing for me is to leave the New Jersey Devils, a great organization that I have a lot of respect for, and our fans that have been great to me.”

New Jersey will be charged $250,000 against the cap through 2024-25 as the cap recapture penalty which was implemented in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Full explanation here.

To make matters worse for the Devils, at the time that Kovalchuk signed that lucrative contract, it was in circumvention of the salary cap and as such, the Devils have to forfeit their 2014 1st round pick after keeping this years (#9 overall) which was shipped off to Vancouver for goaltender Cory Schneider.

The Devils not only lose their best player, but also the NHL’s leading goal scorer over the past 10 seasons as Kovalchuk’s 388 goals in that span rank higher than any other player.

It is already expected that Kovalchuk will return to the KHL, where he played during the lockout this past season. Reports suggest he could earn up to as high as $15 million per year, tax free, if he does indeed return to the KHL.

Update: David Pagnotta has just announced, via Twitter, where Kovalchuk will take his talents next:

David Pagnotta ?@TheFourthPeriod

Now told SKA and Kovalchuk already have an agreement in place. Will be announced “soon” … guessing tomorrow

It is believed that Kovalchuk’s contract with SKA will pay him in the neighborhood of $15 million per season.

Here’s Kovalchuk’s career season and post-season statistics, courtesy of NHL.com:

CAREER REGULAR SEASON STATISTICS

SEASON

TEAM

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PPG

SHG

GWG

S

S%

1999-2000 Spartak Moscow-Russia-2 49 12 5 17 75
1999-2000 Spartak Moscow 2-Russia-3 2 2 1 3 14
1999-2000 Russia-WJ18-A 6 2 3 5 6
2000-2001 Spartak Moscow-Russia-2 40 28 18 46 78
2000-2001 Russia-WJC-A 7 4 2 6 37
2000-2001 Russia-WJ18-A 6 11 4 15 26
2001-2002 Thrashers 65 29 22 51 -19 28 7 0 4 184 15.8
2001-2002 Russia-Olympics 6 1 2 3 14
2002-2003 Thrashers 81 38 29 67 -24 57 9 0 3 257 14.8
2002-2003 Russia-WC-A 7 4 0 4 6
2003-2004 Thrashers 81 41 46 87 -10 63 16 1 6 341 12.0
2003-2004 Russia-WC-A 6 3 1 4 6
2004-2005 Russia-W-Cup 4 1 0 1 -4 4
2004-2005 Ak Bars Kazan-Russia 53 19 23 42 72
2004-2005 Russia-WC-A 9 3 3 6 4
2005-2006 Thrashers 78 52 46 98 -6 68 27 0 7 323 16.1
2005-2006 Russia-Olympics 8 4 1 5 31
2006-2007 Thrashers 82 42 34 76 -2 66 18 0 7 336 12.5
2006-2007 Russia-WC-A 9 2 5 7 10
2007-2008 Thrashers 79 52 35 87 -12 52 16 2 4 283 18.4
2007-2008 Russia-WC-A 8 2 6 8 52
2008-2009 Thrashers 79 43 48 91 -12 50 12 0 6 275 15.6
2008-2009 Russia-WC-A 9 5 9 14 4
2009-2010 Thrashers 49 31 27 58 1 45 10 0 3 179 17.3
2009-2010 Devils 27 10 17 27 9 8 2 0 1 111 9.0
2009-2010 Russia-Olympics 4 1 2 3 0
2009-2010 Russia-WC-A 9 2 10 12 2
2010-2011 Devils 81 31 29 60 -26 28 9 0 9 245 12.7
2010-2011 Russia-WC-A 9 3 5 8 -1 6 0 0 1
2011-2012 Devils 77 37 46 83 -9 33 10 3 5 310 11.9
2012-2013 Devils 37 11 20 31 -6 18 2 4 5 123 8.9
NHL TOTALS 816 417 399 816 -116 516 138 10 60 2,967 14.1

CAREER PLAYOFF STATISTICS

SEASON

TEAM

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PPG

SHG

GWG

S

S%

2000-2001 Spartak Moscow-Russia-2 12 14 4 18 0 38 0.0
2004-2005 Ak Bars Kazan-Russia 4 0 1 1 0
2006-2007 Thrashers 4 1 1 2 -1 19 0 0 0 12 8.3
2006-2007 Russia-WC-A 0 0 0.0
2007-2008 Russia-WC-A 0 0 0.0
2009-2010 Devils 5 2 4 6 0 6 1 0 0 19 10.5
2011-2012 Devils 23 8 11 19 -7 6 5 0 0 70 11.4
NHL TOTALS 32 11 16 27 -8 31 6 0 0 101 10.9

***

Follow me on Twitter, @AustinL_NHL.

***

Very excited to be writing for HockeyTracker.net! Also a writer for NHLFanChat.com. Follow me on Twitter for all the latest NHL News + Rumors + more from around the league. Feel free to email me if you ever have any questions regarding posts of mine or anything hockey related. Subscribe me on Facebook as well. Twitter: @AustinL_NHL Facebook: Austin Legendre Email: NHLsources@hotmail.ca

Latest posts by Austin Legendre (see all)