Ilya Kovalchuk: A Surprising Retirement

Ilya Kovalchuk will return to play hockey in his native Russia in 2013. (Image Source: Getty Images)

Ilya Kovalchuk will return to play hockey in his native Russia in 2013. (Image Source: Getty Images)

One of the most explosive, fastest skaters in the game just retired from the game of hockey to go back to his home country Russia. Only 30 years old, Ilya Kovalchuk decided to retire with a whopping 12 years $77 million remaining on his 15 year $100 million contract he signed with the New Jersey Devils back in 2010. He was the centerpiece of the New Jersey Devils (besides future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur) for the past four seasons leading the Devils to a surprising run to the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals losing to the Los Angelos Kings in 6 games.

Over his career he had scored 417 goals and registered 816 points in 816 career games for 2 teams. Kovalchuk was the first overall pick back in 2001 by the Atlanta Thrashers (when Atlanta actually had a hockey team). On March 20th, 2012 Kovalchuk was the 87th player to record 400 goals while with the Devils. With the Devils Kovalchuk scored 89 goals, 112 assists for a total of 201 points. The next question after this surprising news, is what do the devils do? Over the last 2 years the Devils have lost 3 of their top players, Kovalchuk to retirement, David Clarkson and Zach Parise to free agency. If this is the beginning to things to come for the Devils, who’s the next to go, Brodeur? The Devils management now has questions to answer during the season. Do they try to contend for the cup within the next few years, or do they rebuild due to this shocking retirement?

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