Ilya Kovalchuk is a free agent, but don't expect him to land in San Jose.
The 36-year-old cleared unconditional waivers Tuesday after being placed there by the Kings, with the intention of terminating his contract. Kovalchuk now is an unrestricted free agent and is eligible to sign with any team.
The Russian star has accounted for 436 goals and 423 assists over 897 career NHL games, including six 40-plus goal seasons. He returned to the NHL last season after spending the previous five years in Russia's KHL and signed a three-year contract with Los Angeles, but he has failed to live up to expectations. Kovalchuk notched 16 goals and 34 points in 64 games last season, and currently has three goals, six assists and been a minus-10 through 17 games played so far this season.
His salary will continue to count against the Kings' cap for the remainder of this season and next, and he received a $2.65 million roster bonus on Sunday. Consequently, Kovalchuk reportedly isn't looking for a huge payout from his next team, according to Sport-Express' Igor Eronko.
Per source Ilya Kovalchuk wants to sign with a contender and would be OK with a minimum salary. Bruins are interested— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) December 17, 2019
Kovalchuk's reported salary concession could make him a possibility for the Sharks, as they currently have very little wiggle room under the salary cap. However, if he's looking to join a contender, it's unlikely San Jose would be near the top of his list. The Sharks currently sit outside of playoff position in sixth place in the Pacific Division and just fired Peter DeBoer, who had a good relationship with Kovalchuk over two seasons as his head coach with the New Jersey Devils.
San Jose absolutely could use a scoring boost, and while Kovalchuk once was one of the most feared attackers in the entire NHL, those days appear to be long gone. Given the direction the Sharks' season appears to be heading, they'd be better off giving opportunities to younger, lesser-known options.