New Jersey Devils 2012 Stanley Cup Team: Where are they now?

Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Ilya Kovalchuk celebrates with fellow New Jersey Devils in Game Four against Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Ilya Kovalchuk celebrates with fellow New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Ilya Kovalchuk

Ilya Kovalchuk might be one of NHL history’s greatest ‘what-if’ stories. Kovalchuk, of course,  played just four years with the New Jersey Devils before retiring to go back to Russia with SKA St. Petersburg.

If he hadn’t retired, Kovalchuk might have gone down as one of the best New Jersey Devils in their history, but he did. At least Kovalchuk was able to provide some special moments on a team that needed them.

Ilya Kovalchuk enjoyed his best season as a New Jersey Devil in the 2011-12 season, scoring 37 goals and 83 points in 77 games. He was able to follow that up with eight goals and 19 points in the Devils’ 24 2012 postseason games, which led the team in scoring.

Kovalchuk would dip out to Russia after the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season and returned from ‘retirement’ five years later in the 2018-19 season. Kovalchuk inexcusably linked up with the Los Angeles Kings in his return – the same team that crushed his hopes of hoisting a Stanley Cup a few years prior.

The following year, Kovalchuk was traded to the Montreal Canadiens, and traded again to the Washington Capitals to join fellow Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin in D.C. Kovalchuk had one assist in eight playoff games with the Caps.

Ilya Kovalchuk returned to the KHL again for the 2020-21 season but hasn’t played since his contract was terminated in 2021. It’s unclear whether Ilya Kovalchuk is truly retired, but at this point, it’s looking likely his playing days are over.