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Added August 10th, 2010 by Chalk
NHL

Arbitrator Rejects Kovalchuk Contract, Back To Free Agency

Monday, Arbitrator Richard Block sided with the NHL, saying the league was correct to void the front-loaded 17-year, $102 million contract the New Jersey Devils gave Ilya Kovalchuk.  As a result, Kovalchuk is back to being a free agent, but within hours the Devils had reopened negotiations with the highly-touted Russian goal scorer.  The Devils are also waiting to see if the NHL takes a big wack at them with the discipline stick in the form of fines and/or losing draft picks.

Emboldened by winning at arbitration, the NHL may also look into voiding contracts they have already approved but also circumvent the salary cap.  The Globe and Mail reports the league is currently investigating contracts given to the following players:

  • Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo
  • Boston Bruins center Marc Savard
  • Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger
  • Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa

The tipping point in Kovalchuk’s contract may have been the 16th and 17th year, since Kovalchuk would have been 44 before the contract ended and only six players in the past 20 years have played at age 42 or older.

My best guess is the Devils and Kovalchuk settle on a revised deal pretty quickly.  While the Devils were pretty confident they’d win at arbitration, it’s hard to believe they didn’t have at least the framework of a backup plan worked out in case they lost.  Maybe 14 years, $99.9 million?

 
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