St. Petersburg, Russia (Sports Network) - Ilya Kovalchuk may have retired from the NHL, but he is not done playing hockey.
Four days after calling it quits with the New Jersey Devils and leaving about $77 million over the next 12 years on the table, Kovalchuk signed a four-year contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Kovalchuk said in a statement last Thursday that he wanted to remain home in Russia, a sentiment he considered before returning to New Jersey after the NHL lockout ended last January.
The 30-year-old forward played for SKA St. Petersburg during the lockout and reportedly thought about staying after a new collective bargaining agreement was reached in mid-January. He was late in arriving for New Jersey's brief training camp prior to the start of the shortened season.
In 37 games with the Devils last season, Kovalchuk had 11 goals and 20 assists. He missed most of the last month of the season with a shoulder injury and the Devils failed to generate much offense in his absence during a 10-game losing streak, missing the playoffs a year after reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.
Over an 11-year NHL career with the Atlanta Thrashers and Devils, Kovalchuk had 417 goals, 399 assists and 516 penalty minutes in 816 games.
The Atlanta franchise, which has since moved to Winnipeg, selected Kovalchuk with the first overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He was traded to the Devils on Feb. 4, 2010 and signed a 15-year, $100-million contract in September of that year.