The news hardly comes as a surprise, as his KHL Team, Torpedo, spilled the beans over the weekend. Kovalenko will be loaned back to the KHL for the upcoming season, but would be eligible to join the Avalanche once his KHL season is complete.
The regular season for Torpedo ends on Feb. 26, 2024, but Torpedo is likely to be a good team again, so the wait would be a little longer. Their season ended in the second round on March 22 this year.
The final regular season game for the Avalanche takes place on April 18. Because Kovalenko is their draft pick and on their reserve list, he would be eligible to play for them in the playoffs.
Colorado Hockey now has been on this story for a while now, as we first posted about this possibility back in February. Kovalenko did have one year remaining on his KHL deal, but that contract has been terminated. Colorado loaning him back to the KHL is a sign of good faith, both for the player and relations with Russia. Having just drafted another player out of the KHL in the first round last month, that could come in handy down the line.
The other important piece of the deal is the 2-year portion. Kovalenko turns 24 in October, but having another player signed to a cheap contract beyond this season is important in a salary cap world. There are rumors that Kovalenko has an out-clause that states if he’s not in the NHL by December of that second year, he can return to the KHL, but we’ll wait for official word. Having watched Kovalenko play, I’m confident he can step into the NHL immediately and fill a role, but you never truly know until he crosses the pond.
Kovalenko led Torpedo with 54 points in 56 games last year, and finished third in the KHL in points-per-game. He was a sixth-round draft pick by Colorado in 2018.
If you are interested in learning more about the player, here are links to 3 film rooms we did on Kovalenko earlier in the summer.