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Ilya Kovalchuk's Camp Sets Deadline For NHL Contract

According to TSN, Ilya Kovalchuk’s Russian agent, Yuri Nikolaev has set a 48-hour deadline to get a contract offer accepted by the NHL brass, or else Kovalchuk will likely play in the KHL this season.

From the full TSN article (which found the report from Yahoo!’s Dmitri Chesnokov):

Yahoo!‘s Dmitri Chesnokov is reporting that Kovalchuk’s Russian agent, Yuri Nikolaev has set a 48-hour deadline with the NHL to resolve his client’s contract issues or Kovalchuk will likely play elsewhere this season with the KHL being the most likely option. More calls between all parties are scheduled for the remainder of Thursday.

The Devils and Kovalchuk presented the framework for a new deal on Monday after the original 17-year, $102 million contract was rejected by the league, however once again the NHL did not allow the deal due to the length of the contract, leading to increased frustration in the Kovalchuk camp and thus the implementation of a deadline in the hopes of a quick resolution. Nikolaev stated that they had been in contact with SKA St. Petersburgh of the KHL but would not specify about the nature of those discussions.

Every time that you think this saga is coming to an end, something crazier happens. This though, this takes the cake.

Obviously Kovalchuk’s camp is getting fed up with the back and forth campaign with the NHL. Almost three weeks ago arbitrator Richard Bolch upheld the NHL’s decision to reject Kovalchuk’s 17-year $102 million contract. Then a few days ago it was reported that Kovalchuk’s camp had come to the NHL in order to try to come to an agreement about the structure of a new contract. Those structure talks also went negatively, and apparently this is drawing Kovalchuk’s patience to it’s final nerve.

If this deadline is true, and Kovalchuk ends up going to the KHL (there are still major money offers on the table in the KHL), then the NHL is going to catch a ton of flack. Regardless, there is no reason for the NHL to give in just because a threat is getting thrown around. And although I have no doubt that the KHL is calling, I doubt very highly that Kovalchuk is going to bolt the NHL.

If Kovalchuk does bolt the NHL then the media needs to take a good hard look at the reason why. If the only way that Kovalchuk will play in the NHL — he rejected a 7-year $60 million contract earlier in the year remember — is to get a crazy contract, then no one should mind his departure.

Sure he scores 50 goals a year, but he doesn't play any defense and, for all his talent, is sporting a dismal 1-8 record in the post season. Kovalchuk most certainly deserves a $7 million contract, but to think that he deserves $10 million a year is absurd. If that's the only contract he will ink his name on, then expect him to go to the KHL because they're the only ones offering that kind of money right now. And I don't expect that to change. 

We’ll have more when it happens.