With time now dwindling before training camp, it’s becoming increasingly likely that the Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk will have to play hardball right back at the NHL.
To get the two-time 52-goal scorer back on-ice in New Jersey for the Sept. 17 start of training camp, the Devils might have to attempt to unclench the league’s new hard-line stance through what would amount to appeal. They formally would submit a new contract and upon rejection, return to arbitration with a new arbitrator.
They will have plenty of backers now that the league is using its dubious Aug. 9 victory to limit contract length, a rare issue that the NHL failed to win in collective bargaining, and minimize front-loaded, cap-happy contracts.
One report claims the initial 17-year, $102 million contract was pared to 15 years in the framework submitted to the league Monday and discouraged by the NHL Tuesday.
The Devils and Kovalchuk’s camp are believed working feverishly to satisfy the league’s objections, and have likely scuttled the initial change from a no-movement to a no-trade clause that could have eased them out of the final years of a $6 million cap hit.
Devils reworking Kovalchuk deal – NYPOST.com