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Kovalchuk free agent after being waived by Kings

Forward has contract terminated by Los Angeles, has been healthy scratch since Nov. 9

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Ilya Kovalchuk is an unrestricted free agent after clearing waivers Tuesday.

The 36-year-old forward was placed on unconditional waivers Monday by the Los Angeles Kings, who terminated his contract.

"It didn't work. It's as simple as that," Kings general manager Rob Blake said Tuesday in Boston. "It didn't work on both ways. He's free -- after today -- to look around and continue his options here in the NHL, and we'll move on too.

"But you've got to be able to cut a tie and move on, and I think for both parties that's kind of the way it worked out."

Kovalchuk has nine points (three goals, six assists) in 17 games this season and has been scratched since Nov. 9. He signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with the Kings on July 1, 2018, after five seasons with SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League. He has 43 points (19 goals, 24 assists) in 81 games since returning to the NHL.

"I don't know what was reported," Kovalchuk said Nov. 14. "I'm the regular player. Everybody's got a healthy scratch and we're in last place, so Coach (Todd McLellan) has to do something to change things, and I'm just here every day for the guys, for the team. And if they need me, I'm ready to go."

Video: Ilya Kovalchuk placed on unconditional waivers

The No. 1 pick by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2001 NHL Draft, Kovalchuk has 859 points (436 goals, 423 assists) in 897 NHL games with the Thrashers, New Jersey Devils and Kings, and 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) in 32 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He scored 52 goals in 2005-06 and 2007-08 and has six seasons of at least 40 goals. He had 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) to help the Devils reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, when they lost to the Kings in six games.

Todd McLellan, in his first season as coach of the Kings, who entered their game at the Boston Bruins on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, SNP, NESN, FS-W, NHL.TV) last in the Western Conference at 14-18-3, said he never had an issue with Kovalchuk's work ethic and approach to his game.  

"Anybody that is going to try and poke holes in [Kovalchuk's] character is completely wrong. He was outstanding," McLellan said. "I enjoyed my time with him, and I think the teammates did too. When he was dealt this situation, he handled it with the utmost professionalism.

"He worked. He was excited to see his teammates win. I don't have a single negative thing to say about him, and if he resurfaces in the League, if he can get his game going, that's great, I do know that somebody would get a real good teammate."

NHL.com staff writer Amalie Benjamin contributed to this report 

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