By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Ilya Kovalchuk retired recently from the New Jersey Devils. He is leaving some $77 million on the table. That’s right, $77 million US dollars. The thing is, he may be taking a pay raise.

Kovalchuk claims that he wants to move back to Russia and be closer to the family. A legit admit claim. One cannot ignore the fact that Russia has a general flat income tax rate of 13%. According to a short article in the Wall Street Journal, Kovalchuk would have made $46 million in the next 4 years if he stayed with the Devils. He would have ended up paying $23.45 million in federal and state taxes. Moving to Russia appears to have been the right move economically speaking.

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He didn’t win a Stanley Cup while with the Devils but it’s not like he can’t come back. In fact, he can come back to the NHL and ‘un-retire’ when he’s 35 and give it another shot. what do the Devils get? A big hole on their roster and they are out of pocket $300,000 a year until 2024-2025 season.

It is totally understandable if Devils fans are upset. Not only did one of the worlds best players decide to leave but his timing couldn’t have been worse. It was done late in free agency and after the draft. Leaving the Devils even further behind the 8 ball.

However you cannot ignore his reasons for leaving. He wants to be in Russia. He wants to be home. For as upset as some Devils fans may be, and teammates for that matter, there had to be a little sympathy for the man if not sheer appreciation for financial maneuvering by his accountant.

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