Maybe the Kings didn’t lose out on free agent Ilya Kovalchuk after all. The NHL voided his 17-year deal with the New Jersey Devils today, saying it circumvented the salary cap. Per Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger:
In an effort to keep Kovalchuk’s average salary (and cap hit) low, the Devils signed him to the longest contract in NHL history. Although he will be paid $11.5 million at its height, the average is just $6 million.
The current deal would pay Kovalchuk $95 million in the first 10 years and only $7 million over the final seven years. The last five years of the contract would pay him just $550,000 annually. The NHL has determined that the contract was lengthened solely to lower the cap hit.
Quisp of Jewels From The Crown outlines the relevant passages from the NHL collective bargaining agreement:
The NHLPA has five days to “dispute.” If they don’t, the contract is void. If they do, it goes to an Arbitrator, who decides within 48 hours. So we will know within a week.