Ilya Kovalchuk has decided to postpone his NHL comeback for at least one season, according to the New York Post.
The former New Jersey Devils winger and $100 million man had been this offseason, with Devils general manager Ray Shero denying reports out of Russia that Kovalchuk valued staying in the Kontinental Hockey League over a return to the NHL.
The 34-year-old Kovalchuk, however, has opted to return to the KHL's SKA Saint Petersburg for the 2017-18 season, per Larry Brooks of the New York Post, and instead become an unrestricted NHL free agent on July 1, 2018.
Shero "made attempts to make trades" involving Kovalchuk, Brooks tweeted Tuesday, but in the end, it was the former Devils forward's decision to stay in Russia.
An All-Star regular with the Atlanta Thrashers before his 2010 trade to New Jersey, where he signed a later-voided 17-year contract and became the seventh-highest scoring Russian in the league, Kovalchuk retired from the NHL in 2013. He has logged at least 16 goals in each of his four seasons with SKA Saint Petersburg, including 32 in 2016-17.