Ilya Kovalchuk's career began with his arrival from Russia as the first player taken in the 2001 NHL Draft. It ended Thursday when he announced his retirement from the NHL and his return to Russia with his family.
Kovalchuk was one of the most dynamic players in hockey during his 11 seasons in the NHL, first with the Atlanta Thrashers then with the New Jersey Devils. He averaged exactly a point per game -- 816 points in 816 regular-season games -- and his 417 goals were the most of any player in the League during that span.
Here's a look at some of his highlights:
2001-02: In 65 games as a rookie with the second-year Thrashers, Kovalchuk scored 29 goals and had 22 assists for 51 points. A late-season shoulder injury may have cost him the Calder Trophy, which went to teammate Dany Heatley, who had 26 goals and 67 points in 82 games.
2003-04: After improving to 38 goals and 67 points in 2002-03, Kovalchuk tied Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames for the Rocket Richard Trophy by sharing the NHL goal-scoring lead with 41. That earned him Second-Team All-Star status. He also played in his first NHL All-Star Game.