The 6'2", 230 lb 27-year-old left winger from Russia played for the Altanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils this past season.
In total he had 41 goals and 44 assists, a plus-10 rating, 53 penalty minutes, 12 power play goals, and four game winners in 76 games. He also contributed off the scoreboard with 30 hits, 20 blocked shots, and 34 takeaways during the regular season. He also added two goals and four assists in five playoff games.
For six of his eight years in the NHL he has been a 40-goal scorer. He is known for this offensive prowess, especially his lethal shot that can man the point on the power play. Although his career plus-minus of minus-75 leaves much to be desired, he is a premier offensive player in the NHL.
Thus far the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders appear to be the front-runners for his services, although it is rumoured that he will accept no less than $8 million per year on any contract he signs.
The Los Angeles Kings were also in the running, but it has been reported that Kovalchuk and his agent turned down the Kings' best offer. They will no longer be pursuing the free agent sniper.
He does have some leverage in that regard, as there are rumours that he has received offers in the range of $10 million per year for three years from teams in the Kontinental Hockey League in his home country of Russia. That money would also be tax and escrow free, so it could be a fairly enticing package.
There are reports that the New York Islanders have offered or are prepared to offer $10 million over a 10-year contract for the scoring star. This would not be out of the ordinary for the franchise. See both Alexei Yashin and Rick DiPietro as examples of these types of long-term deals.