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Done Deal-ya: Kovalchuk returns

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Kovalchuk returns to New Jersey.


Big decisions take time, but Ilya Kovalchuk has made up his mind: he’s coming back to the Devils.

Since the free agent signing period began on July 1, almost every day brought new speculation on where the two-time 50-goal scorer might be headed. One of the most coveted unrestricteds in history, Kovalchuk finally ended the suspense Monday with the Devils' announcement that he’s staying in the Garden State. A 1 p.m. press conference will be held Tuesday at Prudential Center.

A three-time All-Star, Kovalchuk, 27, is the crown jewel on a roster primed to be an offensive juggernaut in 2010-11. As dynamic a scorer as there is in the National Hockey League, he bolsters a lineup that features a pair of 40-goal scorers in Patrik Elias and Zach Parise.

Kovalchuk compiled 41 goals, 44 assists last season, his sixth straight campaign with 40-or-more tallies. Acquired via trade from Atlanta on Feb. 4, Kovalchuk collected 10 goals and 17 assists in 27 games after landing in New Jersey.

On the power play, Kovalchuk packs a fearsome shot from the point that will be even more potent with the 6-5 frame of Jason Arnott parked in front of opposing goaltenders. Arnott, the auteur of the Devils’ Stanley Cup-clinching goal in 2000, was re-acquired from Nashville on June 19.

Kovalchuk's signing is the most recent move for the Devils, the clear winners of this year's offseason. The two-time defending Atlantic Division champions signed defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov and goaltender Johan Hedberg on July 1. They hired new coach John MacLean on June 17.
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