Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reports that Ilya Kovalchuk’s new 15-year, $100-million deal with the New Jersey Devils is likely to be approved by the National Hockey League because it increases the amount of money Kovalchuk is to receive in the final five years.
The new deal will see the 27-year-old Kovalchuk receive $10 million over those five years, versus the $2.75 million in the previous deal the NHL rejected.
The Devils and Kovalchuk submitted the new deal to the NHL on Friday. The league has five days from then to approve or reject it.
The original deal, which would have paid Kovalchuk $102 million over 17 years, was rejected by the league because too much of the money was to be paid out in the first 12 years, and the length of the deal circumvented “the spirit of the CBA.” The original deal had an annual cap hit of $6 million, while the new deal increases that to $6.67 million.
The league also called the original deal a “retirement” contract, implying that Kovalchuck would be unlikely to play the final years of the deal and would surrender less money if he retired before the deal ended. Kovalchuck would have been 44 at the end of the original deal.
The NHL Players Association grieved the league’s decision, but an arbitrator sided with the NHL.
If Kovalchuk’s new deal is approved, the Devils will have to shed about $3-5 million in payroll from elsewhere in order to get under the $59.4-million salary cap for this season.