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Devils bring back Kovalchuk - 07-19-10

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

According to the team's official Twitter page, the Devils have brought back superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk. Terms of a contract were not announced. According to the team, a press conference would be held Tuesday.

Kovalchuk agent, Jay Grossman, via Twitter, announced his client would make a decision today.

In 76 games split between the Devils and Thrashers last season, Kovalchuk scored 85 points (41 goals, 44 assists) and was a plus-10. In 27 games alone with New Jersey, Kovalchuk had 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists).

Kovalchuk led the Devils in scoring in the postseason. In six games, he had six points (two goals, four assists).

The Devils acquired Kovalchuk prior to the Olympic games in a trade along with Anssi Salmela and a draft pick in exchange for forwards Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, defenseman Johnny Oduya and two draft picks.

Kovalchuk, 27, was courted heavily by the Kings and briefly by the Islanders since the free agency period began July 1.

The first overall pick in the 2001 draft by Atlanta, Kovalchuk leads the NHL in goal scoring since 2001-02 with 338 goals.

EN Says: Without knowing any of the terms of this deal, it's difficult to fully digest it. Depending on how big the deal is, it'll be interesting to see the Devils try and find a way to re-sign star forward Zach Parise (right) who becomes a restricted free agent next season.

But in terms of a pure hockey move, it's obviously fantastic news for the Devils. They have one of the best pure goal-scorers in the world under contract. Kovalchuk is a player with 50-goal potential. And they have one of the best collection of top six forwards in the league with Kovalchuk, Parise, Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner and Brian Rolston.

And when you throw in the fact they added Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder on defense and Johan Hedberg as a back-up goaltender, it's clear the Devils are very serious about contending for another Stanley Cup title.

As it usually is, the Atlantic Division is going to be a tremendous battle next season between the Devils, Penguin and Flyers who all made big moves this offseason.

UPDATE: Kovalchuk's deal is for 17 years and a total of $102 million. He will have a salary cap hit of $6 million. Here's how Kovalchuk will be (or is scheduled to be) paid over the course of the deal:

2010-11  $6 Million
2011-12  $6 Million
2012-13  $11.5 Million
2013-14  $11.5 Million
2014-15  $11.5 Million
2015-16  $11.5 Million
2016-17  $11.5 Million
2017-18  $10.5 Million
2018-19  $8.5 Million
2019-20  $6.5 Million
2020-21  $3.5 Million
2021-22  $750,000
2022-23  $550,000
2023-24  $550,000
2024-25  $550,000
2025-26  $550,000
2026-27  $550,000

(Photos: Kovalchuk-Jim McIsaac/Getty Images; Parise-Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

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