Source Fire & Ice
After spending Monday reviewing the 15-year, $100 million contract Ilya Kovalchuk signed with the Devils on Friday, the NHL did not announce a decision on whether it was going to approve or reject the deal.
Although a source said the league did not officially inform the Devils of a decision on the contract—that would come in the form of a letter of approval or rejection—there were indications that the NHL officials did make a decision on Monday and that the verdict would likely be officially communicated to the team on Tuesday.
Whether the NHL informally let the Devils know Monday what that decision would be—as it did before officially rejecting the 17-year, $102 million contract Kovalchuk signed on July 19—was unknown. Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello did not return a telephone message I left for him early Monday evening.
Regardless, the NHL has until 5 p.m. Wednesday (the end of its five-day limit) to officially render a decision. Otherwise, under the collective bargaining agreement, the contract would be deemed approved and registered.
Some details on the structure of Kovalchuk’s contract emerged Monday. Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported that the deal would pay Kovalchuk $90 million over the first 10 seasons and $10 million over the last five. The average salary over the last three seasons would be $2.6 million, with a base salary of $4 million in the contract’s final season of 2024-25—according to Kypreos.
If those numbers are correct, they would seem to address at least some of the NHL’s concerns about Kovalchuk’s initial contract, which would have paid him $98.5 million in the first 11 seasons and just $3.5 million in the last six. That was part of what led the NHL to reject the contract as a circumvention of the salary cap. That rejection was upheld by arbitrator Richard Bloch in an Aug. 9 ruling that followed a two-day grievance hearing in Boston the preceding week.