Well, the saga continues. According to TSN the NHL has rejected the contract signed by Ilya Kovalchuk with the New Jersey Devils yesterday.
The NHL has rejected Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million contract with the New Jersey Devils on the grounds that it circumvents the NHL’s salary cap.
Not to brag, but I called this on Rink Side Radio last night. Also, it isn’t a surprise, since $99 million is paid in the first 10 years, while $550,000 was scheduled to be paid each of the remaining seven years of the deal.
What does this mean for Kovalchuk? The TSN article from above takes care of that:
TSN Insider Darren Dreger explains that the deal was rejected due to the fact that the NHL does not believe that either Kovalchuk nor the Devils expected the 2004 Rocket Richard trophy winner would be playing near end of the contract and that it is a case of artificially lowering the annual average value of the contract. The Devils must now either file the contract once again or the Players' Association can file a grievance.
Should the NHLPA decide to file a grievance, the contract would remain dead until an arbitrator determines otherwise.
As far as Kovalchuk and the Devils are concerned, I don't know where they go from here. It seemed like this was the only way that Lamoriello could get Kovalchuk under contract was to pull off a move like this, and now it has been rejected.
There will be some backlash because deals like Marian Hossa's 12-year contract and Chris Pronger's seven-year contract were basically the same thing. But I think that the NHL has a point here, this deal was for way too many years, and it paid him the league minimum for the final seven years of the deal. There is no way that this wasn't a way to get around the cap.
For all of you NHL fans out there who don't want to see another lockout, look at this as a huge step forward.