Sportsnet has learned that an arbitrator has been agreed upon by the NHL/PA for the Ilya Kovalchuk case.
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The hearing is expected to start as soon as next week, with a decision to come by the end of the week.
Kovalchuk had signed a US$102 million, 17-year contract with the New Jersey Devils earlier in the month.
But the NHL felt the Devils went too far in giving the 27-year-old Russian a contract that would pay $95 million over the first 10 years, but only $7 million over the final seven.
The final five years would pay only $550,000 per season.
The argument by the Kovalchuk camp is that the NHL hasn’t rejected past deals that have had similar terms.
Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo has a $63 million, 12-year deal that pays only $7 million over the final four seasons and takes him to age 43.
Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks will be 42 at the end of his $62.8 million, 12-year contract that pays $3.5 million in the last four seasons.
Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen of the Detroit Red Wings and Chris Pronger of the Philadelphia Flyers are among those with similar contracts. In length, the Kovalchuk deal tops New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro's 15 years and Washington Capital Alex Ovechkin's 13.
These long term contracts have become common after the salary cap was instituted in 2004-05.
Next season’s cap is $59.4 million per team.
Kovalchuk reportedly rejected a $101 million, 12-year contract offer from the Atlanta Thrashers before he was traded to New Jersey in February.
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