The National Hockey League and its Players’ Association have agreed on an arbitrator to settle the Ilya Kovalchuk case, Sportsnet has learned.
Richard Bloch, who has heard CBA grievances in the past, will arbitrate the case which could start on Wednesday and possibly conclude by Thursday.
Kovalchuk signed a 17-year, $102-million contract with the New Jersey Devils earlier in the month, but the NHL rejected the deal because they felt it circumvented the salary cap.
Under the signed deal, the 27-year-old Russian would earn $95 million over the first 10 years of the contract, 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 for the 2004-05 season.
Next season’s salary cap is set to $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.