It could not have been too surprising when Ilya Kovalchuk opted to return to the Kontinental Hockey League for the 2017-18 season.

The former Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils forward was apparently hungry for a return to the NHL, where he once landed a $100 million deal as one of the league's premier shooters. But Russia has been kind to the 34-year-old, who put up big numbers for SKA Saint Petersburg in 2016-17 and was reportedly pressured by Vladimir Putin's "inner circle" to postpone an NHL comeback.

Yahoo Sports' Greg Wyshynski, detailing a behind-the-scenes look at Devils general manager Ray Shero's attempt to trade Kovalchuk and resurrect the forward's NHL career, took things a step further this week.

New Jersey, Shero is quoted as saying in Wyshynski's piece, didn't receive a single concrete offer for Kovalchuk.

Wyshynski wrote that "over half the league made some level of inquiry to Kovalchuk's representatives over the last few months," and three teams were in contact with Shero after free agency kicked off on July 1.

All of them, however, either redacted interest or never got back to Shero in trade talks.

From the Devils GM himself, per Wyshynski:

I never turned down a first-round pick. I never turned down a seventh-round pick. I never turned down anything. Why? It's really simple: There was nothing to turn down.

None of it matters much now with Kovalchuk staying in Russia until at least 2018, when he'll be eligible to test free agency in the NHL. But the general impression before Kovalchuk's decision to remain in the KHL was that Shero would have at least a handful of offers on the table, even if they were ones he'd be hard pressed to accept.

The holdup, Wyshynski outlined, likely stemmed from the complications of Kovalchuk's potential comeback, including the forward's abandoned NHL contract and an apparent mutual disinterest between the Devils and the former All-Star in a reunion.

"Neither they nor Kovalchuk had much appetite to add him to a roster that may be a few years away from contending," Wyshynksi said. "In Summer 2018, this situation becomes much less complicated: Straight contract talks, no concerns about compensating the Devils. The process will be easier, the market likely broader for his services."