Rumor: Ilya Kovalchuk is going back to Montreal.

Big if true.

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We have a huge rumor to report and given the source it comes from this one does appear to be very solid indeed. 

As many fans will know Russian superstar Ilya Kovalchuk decided to make his return to the National Hockey League a few short years ago now, eventually signing with the Los Angeles Kings on a multi-year deal. One of the main criteria for Kovalchuk at the time was a chance to win a Stanley Cup Championship and the Kings at the time had consistently been a contending team, but it seemingly all fell apart the moment that Kovalchuk signed on the dotted line. 

The Kings were not at all a competitive team during his time there and in fact you would be within your rights to suggest that they have in fact been one of the worst teams in the NHL since he joined the organization. That would lead to a rift between Kovalchuk and the team itself, eventually resulting in a prolonged period of Kovalchuk being made a healthy scratch. Kovalchuk was clearly not happy with that situation and as tensions between he and the Kings mounted the two sides eventually agreed to part ways and his contract was terminated. It seemed like the end for Kovalchuk in the NHL at the time but one general manager, Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens, opted to give Kovalchuk another shot. 

The connection between Kovalchuk, the fans in the city of Montreal, and the city of Montreal itself seemed to be almost instantaneous. The once dominant Russian forward saw his career reborn in Montreal eventually leading to a trade at the 2020 NHL trade to Stanley Cup contender the Washington Capitals. The question on the minds of many fans in Montreal, fans who had quickly become enamored with Kovalchuk, was whether or not he could possibly return as a free agent in the summer. It seems we may now have an answer to that question.

Recently Montreal Canadiens insider Eric Engels of Sportsnet was asked about the possibility of a return to Montreal for Kovalchuk, and his response left little doubt that the Habs were at the very top of Kovalchuk's list. From Engels:

Based on my information, it’s all but assured Kovalchuk will be back in Montreal come 2020-21.

There is no doubt at all in that statement from Engels and although we will have to wait and see, given how well connected Engels' is when it comes to the Habs, it seems very likely that this one will come to pass.