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Russian Hockey Star Kovalchuk Returns To North America

Russian ice hockey player Ilya Kovalchuk (file photo)
Russian ice hockey player Ilya Kovalchuk (file photo)

Russian Olympic hockey star Ilya Kovalchuk is returning to North America after signing a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League (NHL).

The deal sealed on June 23 will pay the 35-year-old Russian star a total of $18.75 million over the three years.

Kovalchuk previously left North America in 2013 for the Kontinental Hockey League's (KHL) SKA St. Petersburg.

He led the KHL in scoring last season and was most-valuable player of the Olympic tournament in Pyeongchang.

Although Russia was banned from competing as a team at the games in South Korea because of doping violations in the past, some athletes were allowed to participate as neutrals under the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) designation.

The OAR hockey team won gold.

Kovalchuk was selected as the No. 1 pick in the 2002 NHL Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers, who have since relocated to Winnipeg. He last played for the New Jersey Devils in the 2012-13 season.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

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