Ilya Kovalchuk: Decision On Contract Delayed Until Friday

September 1st, 2010 No Comments

Dan Rosen of NHL.com is reporting that the Ilya Kovalchuk saga now has a deadline of 5 p.m. ET Friday, at which point the NHL will either accept or reject what is believed to be a 15-year, $100 million contract between Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils.

The NHL made all kinds of headlines when it challenged the Devils original contract offer to Kovalchuk which would have paid the talented Russian sniper a total of $102 million over 17-years.

The NHL made its case on the suspicion that the original contract was guilty of a “circumvention” of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which an independent arbitrator later agreed with.

If the latest contract is rejected, its back to the drawing board for the Devils, who have been working closely with the NHLPA and NHL in order to facilitate a deal that would be deemed acceptable by the NHL.

It is widely felt that the latest deal will not meet the NHL’s approval, which could cause Kovalchuk to consider other options, including the KHL.

If the deal is approved, the Devils would be well over the salary cap and would likely have to shed some salary in or to facilitate bringing Kovalchuk into the fold.

According to capgeek.com, the Devils are currently sitting at $56,441,667 committed to 20 players, leaving them a total of $3,698,333 under the salary cap.

With the Kovalchuk deal believed to net out to a cap hit of $6 million or more in the first year, the Devils would be $2-$3 million over the cap once everything is said and done.

Defenseman Bryce Salvador ($2.9 million), Danius Zubrus ($3.4 million) and Travis Zajac ($3.887 million) are believed to be the players that the Devils would most likely look at dealing in order to create the necessary cap space required to bring in Kovalchuk.

Some wonder if the Devils would be better off without Kovalchuk in the lineup, but with little left in the way of free agents and considering the price the Devils gave up to the Atlanta Thrashers (Niclas Bergfors, Johnny Oduya, prospect Patrice Cormier and a 2010 first round pick) in order to bring Kovalchuk to the team in the first place, re-signing Kovalchuk looks to be a high priority for Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey Devils organization.

Either way, the Kovalchuk deal or no deal will have a huge impact on all other NHL contracts, including those that are currently under investigation and beyond.

The contract will also have an impact when it comes time to negotiate the new CBA in 2012, with players terms and monies being reviewed. Further, when you consider the hard feelings it has created between the players, the NHLPA and the NHL, the topic of player contracts looks to be a very hot topic, one that could make or break an agreement between all sides.

It all leaves NHL fans wondering: when will the Kovalchuk saga ever end?

There is hope for Friday, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Until next time,

Peace!

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