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Kovalchuk's Devils deal goes to arbitration

Star winger Ilya Kovalchuk's disputed contract with the New Jersey Devils could be decided by the end of next week, as the NHL and the Players' Association have agreed to bring in an independent arbitrator to settle the case.

The Ilya Kovalchuk saga may finally be coming to an end.

The star winger's disputed contract with the New Jersey Devils could be decided by the end of next week, as the NHL and the Players' Association have agreed to bring in an independent arbitrator to settle the case, according to The Canadian Press.

A hearing into the case is expected to start early next week.

The NHL rejected the epic 17-year deal Kovalchuk signed with New Jersey earlier this month. It would have been the longest deal in league history that would see the Russian get $102 million US in a front-loaded contract with minimal salary in the final years.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly rejected the contract last week on the grounds it circumvented the league's collective bargaining agreement.

The NHLPA filed a grievance Monday to dispute the league's rejection.