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Added September 6th, 2010 by Chalk
NHL

Kovalchuk Deal Approved (Finally) With Big Repercussions

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, in the midst of Labor Day weekend, the NHL and NHLPA finally worked out a deal to accept the second version of a contract between high-scoring forward Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils.  On the surface, Kovalchuk’s new deal at 15 years, $100 million doesn’t seem that different from the first version he signed in July for 17 years, $102 million only to be rejected by the NHL, to be appealed by the union, and rejected by an arbitrator.  The affect on the Devils and especially the rest of the league and its players is much bigger than the affect it will have on Kovalchuk.

As part of the agreement, the NHL and NHLPA have agreed to an immediate change to the collective bargaining agreement that changes the way long-term contracts count against each team’s salary cap. The main issue with Kovalchuk’s original contract was its length, which would have ended with Kovalchuk at age 44.  Instead of averaging all years on a contract, the league will now calculate annual salary cup figures by averaging just the years until a player is 41.

The new salary cup rules don’t apply to Kovalchuk’s new contract.  Under the first deal, his salary would’ve counted $6 million per year against New Jersey’s cap, but with the approved contract, he’ll count $6.7 million against the cap.  If the new rules were in affect, Kovalchuk would count $7.15 against the cap.  The Devils are also over the cap right now and still have two empty roster spots, so they’ll need to make some more roster moves before the season begins.

As part of the pact with the union, the NHL agreed to stop investigating other long-term contracts — Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa, Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger and Bruins forward Marc Savard — and all those old contracts get grandfathered in under the old rules.  Overall, everyone seems happy that the rules are pretty fair, and more importantly are completely clear as far as what you can and can’t do.

It’s a good sign for labor peace when the two sides renegotiate the CBA in 2012 — Happy Labor Day!

 
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