Two days after winning the KHL's Gagarin Cup, the veteran forward and Avangard Omsk agreed to terminate his contract, the league announced Friday.
Kovalchuk signed a two-year pact with the club in December. He returned to Russia after playing the 2018-19 and 2019-20 NHL seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, and Washington Capitals.
The 38-year-old collected five goals and 12 assists across 16 KHL regular-season games in 2021 before adding four goals and five assists in 24 playoff contests.
Kovalchuk has notched 443 goals and 433 assists in 926 NHL games over 13 campaigns. He's also spent parts of nine seasons playing in his native Russia.
The IIHF agreed in principle to hold the 2021 women's world hockey championship between Aug. 20-31, with a new venue still being decided.
The tournament was originally supposed to be held from May 6-16 in Nova Scotia, but the provincial government canceled the event last week due to COVID-19 restrictions.
"The players, the teams, Hockey Canada, and the IIHF have been placed in a difficult position due to the sudden cancellation. But this is not an excuse to operate this tournament as a half-measure," IIHF president Rene Fasel said. "We needed a range of dates that can work for the teams and also would allow for comprehensive broadcast coverage as well as a chance for spectators to be able to attend the games."
The event's cancelation without an apparent Plan B pushed American superstars Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne Schofield to call out the IIHF for its lack of preparation.
The IIHF and Hockey Canada are working to find potential venues within the country, and a new host is expected to be selected in the coming weeks.
Grubauer missed more than two weeks after contracting the virus. The 29-year-old is having a career year, posting a 25-8-1 record to go with a .920 save percentage and 2.00 goals-against average.
Both Rantanen and Donskoi are returning from four-game absences. Rantanen - who ranks fourth in the NHL with 26 goals this season - underwent contact tracing while Donskoi tested positive. Donskoi has registered 28 points in 2021.
The Avalanche have lost three contests in a row entering Friday. They sit six points behind the West-leading Vegas Golden Knights with a game in hand.
The Seattle franchise made its final expansion payment Friday to formally become the NHL's 32nd team, the league announced.
"On behalf of the board of governors, I am delighted to officially welcome the Seattle Kraken to the NHL as our 32nd member club," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
"Congratulations to David Bonderman, the Bonderman family, their partners, the entire Seattle Kraken organization, the city of Seattle, and Kraken fans as the club continues on its exciting journey towards puck drop in October."
The Kraken are now permitted to begin building their roster through trades and signings, attend league meetings, vote on rule proposals, and receive confidential league information.
The NHL expansion draft is reportedly set to take place July 21 and teams are required to submit their protected players lists July 17.
Seattle will begin its inaugural campaign in 2021-22.
Jaromir Jagr appears set on playing professional hockey into his 50s.
The 49-year-old Jagr recently completed his 33rd pro season with the Kladno Knights - a Czech team he also owns - and said he's not ready to retire.
"I believe I still have it in me," Jagr told NHL.com's Michael Langr. "It is all just about working hard and putting more effort. I have to practice harder and avoid gaining weight."
Jagr had 12 points in 19 regular-season games this season. He added 10 in 16 playoff contests as Kladno won the championship and earned a promotion to Czech Republic's top league.
He said ownership duties are the key reason he keeps playing as he battles what he views as a diminished skill set.
"The main reason I am still playing is my responsibility to the club," Jagr said. "If I did not have any, I would not be flying around on the ice here. Because I am embarrassing myself there, I can say."
He continued: "I expect much more from myself and I don't have it. But I am aware that when I leave, many (business) partners will leave the team, too. That's why I have no choice."
Jagr hasn't played in the NHL since a brief stint with the Calgary Flames in 2017-18. Whenever Jagr calls it quits, he's a lock for first-ballot Hall of Fame enshrinement. On top of his success in Europe, he ranks second in NHL history in points (1,921), third in goals (766), and fourth in games played (1,733). He's also won two Stanley Cups, an MVP, five scoring titles, and an Olympic gold medal.
Welcome to the 15th edition of "Looking North," our weekly Friday dive into the all-Canadian division. This installment dates back to April 23.
The Winnipeg Jets are playing their worst hockey at the wrong time. They've been outscored 21-6 while dropping five straight.
Winnipeg's blue line is an obvious weakness, but elite goaltending and a potent offense had masked some of those issues - until now. The Jets rank 29th in the league in expected goals against per 60 minutes at five-on-five and 28th in expected goals percentage, per Natural Stat Trick. They were due for regression at some point, and it's hitting hard now.
Forward: Connor McDavid is the easy choice. This season's surefire Hart Trophy winner logged seven points in three games this week.
Defense: Thomas Chabot has been a horse all season for the Sens, but he was exceptional this week, tallying two points in three games while averaging 26:55 per night. He also posted a 64.8 expected goals percentage.
Goalie: Jack Campbell has rebounded nicely after a poor stretch of games. The Leafs netminder won both of his starts this past week while allowing just two goals on 59 shots for a .966 save percentage.
Canadian of the week
McDavid is a no-brainer for this as well. It's remarkable that the Oilers captain needs just 16 points in his final eight games to reach 100 in this shortened season. Can he pull it off? We think yes.
The highlight of the week belongs to Auston Matthews, who showed off some absurd hand-eye coordination and his patented shot during Wednesday's tilt with the Canadiens.
How do you defend that?
On the lighter side of things, Sens forward Brady Tkachuk busted out the "Frank the Tank" celebration after his goal Wednesday. It's an ode to the 2003 movie "Old School" featuring Will Ferrell, Tkachuk's favorite comedy actor.
Here's the clip from the movie, for reference.
A pretty spot-on impersonation by Tkachuk. Let's just hope he never goes streaking.
The top four teams in the division - Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Montreal - all have their seasons end by May 15 at the latest. However, Vancouver and Calgary are supposed to play three games the following week.
If the top four playoff spots are locked up, would the NHL consider scrapping these meaningless games? Probably not, but the league should. Would the NHL consider starting the North Division playoffs while those two teams play out the regular season? Again, probably not.
Regardless, it doesn't seem fair or smart for the North Division to start its playoffs roughly a full week later than the rest of the league if it doesn't have to.
Quote of the week
Jets center Mark Scheifele was benched for 17 straight minutes during Winnipeg's 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs on Saturday. He was clearly not happy with head coach Paul Maurice's decision.
"You're definitely pretty pissed off," he said. "I understand where he's coming from but, like I said before, I don't agree with it.
"I didn't agree with it at the time it took place and the magnitude of the game. I definitely didn't agree with it, so we'll leave it at that."
Games to watch
The Leafs and Habs play three times next week, which will likely be a preview of a first-round playoff matchup between the two historic clubs. Toronto dismantled Montreal in the teams' last meeting, so it will be important for the Canadiens to win at least once to inspire some confidence ahead of the postseason.