The Kings made the move Monday “for the purpose of terminating his contract with the club,” they said in a statement.
The 36-year-old Kovalchuk hasn’t played for Los Angeles since Nov. 9. The Kings made the move one day after Kovalchuk received a $2.65 million roster bonus.
The former 50-goal scorer and three-time All-Star rejoined the NHL with the Kings in 2018, agreeing to a three-year contract worth $6.25 million after a five-year stint in his native Russia.
He had 16 goals and 18 assists in 64 games last season, but struggled for consistent ice time and a cohesive role with the last-place Kings, particularly after a coaching change from John Stevens to Willie Desjardins.
The Kings made another coaching change last summer, and the 36-year-old Kovalchuk fared no better under Todd McLellan with the rebuilding team. He had three goals and six assists in 17 games this season, but has been held out of games by the Kings as a healthy scratch while they attempted to trade him.
Kovalchuk has said he wants to stay in the NHL if he becomes a free agent, but he likely could get a lucrative deal to return to the Kontinental Hockey League.