In fact, speculation is that he'll be getting a hefty annual raise.
According to SovSport, a Russian sports website, it would not be surprising if Kovalchuk makes between $15 million and $20 million, minus a 13 percent income tax.
That means Kovalchuk could make up 12 years of NHL salary in just four to five years playing for SKA St. Petersburg.
Kovalchuk's mother spoke to SovSport. Her interview was translated by Yahoo's Puck Daddy blog.
"Of course," Kovalchuk's mother said, when asked if her son liked playing for SKA St. Petersburg during the NHL lockout. "Otherwise this question about leaving the NHL wouldn't even be raised. And so it happened.
"Besides, there were some problems in New Jersey. You know there will likely be a change of ownership there. It's unclear how everything will turn out."
She also said United States taxes, as well as an NHL escrow system, contributed to Kovalchuk's decision. "So the pendulum swung for Russia," she said.