Ilya Kovalchuk Signs Deal with Russian Team SKA St. Petersburg

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- After shockingly walking away from the NHL last week, former New Jersey Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk has signed a deal to play in Russia for SKA St. Petersburg.

Kovalchuk has signed a four-year deal with the team, but financial terms have yet to be disclosed.

Last week, Kovalchuk surprised many when he abruptly retired from the NHL to join the KHL. He had just finished the third year of a 15-year deal with the Devils. Not only that, but he walked away from $77 million.

SKA president Gennady Timchenko described the 30-year-old Kovalchuk as a "real leader."

A former number one overall pick back in 2001, Kovalchuk was one of the best scorers in the NHL during his time with the Thrashers and Devils.

During the 2005-2006 as well 2007-2008 seasons he scored a career-high 52 goals. He also had four other seasons where he scored over 40 goals. In 816 games, Kovalchuk scored 816 points.

Kovalchuck played for SKA St. Petersburg during the NHL lockout, which is said to be one of the factors that played a role in his desire to leave the NHL after his experience with the KHL.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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