NHL, NHLPA agree to extension on Kovalchuk ruling
The NHL and the NHLPA have agreed to extend the deadline by which the league must rule on the contract terms reached by the New Jersey Devils and winger Ilya Kovalchuk to Friday at 5 p.m. ET.
After the league rejected the 17-year, $102-million US deal in July — a decision that was upheld by an arbitrator — the Devils and Kovalchuk returned the negotiation table.
It's been reported that the two parties agreed to a new deal worth approximately $100 million over 15 years.
"We remain confident that the terms of this contract comply, in every respect, with the CBA and meet both the NHL's concerns and the principles of arbitrator [Richard] Bloch's decision," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a statement Wednesday.
"We remain optimistic that this extension will result in an approval of the contract and that Ilya Kovalchuk will remain a valuable member of the Devils for the balance of his career."
Should the NHL reject the deal a second time, the league could find itself in a precarious situation.
SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL league has offered Kovalchuk has huge deal to return to Russia, according to reports.
Kovalchuk's agent, Yuri Nikolaev, told a Russian told newspaper that if his client signs with the KHL, he will stay in his homeland for at least one season.
Wednesday's agreement is the latest chapter in a soap opera that began on July 19, when the Devils announced they signed Kovalchuk to the original, unprecedented contract.
The NHL rejected the deal the following day, saying it circumvented the league's collective bargaining agreement.
The NHL Players Association filed a grievance July 26 in response to the league's rejection, which led to an arbitration hearing.
On Aug. 9, Bloch upheld the league's decision to reject the contract, and as a result Kovalchuk re-entered the free-agent market, although the Devils continued their efforts to sign the left-winger.
Kovalchuk, who scored 41 goals and added 44 assists last season with the Devils and Atlanta Thrashers, was the most coveted free agent this off-season.
He has already turned down two offers from Atlanta — a seven-year deal worth $70 million and a $101-million pact over 12 seasons.