The Devils are waiting to hear if the NHLPA will file a grievance on behalf of Ilya Kovalchuk, who had his 17-year, $102 million contract rejected by the NHL on July 20 for salary cap circumvention.
All signs point to the NHLPA filing the grievance by today’s 5 p.m. deadline. The NHLPA’s lawyers have conducted a thorough study of the case – including interviewing all parties involved – in an effort to decide whether or not to file the grievance.
After the grievance is filed, the NHL and NHLPA must hire a “systems” arbitrator to decide on the case. The process could take weeks, but several beat reporters believe both sides will want to quickly resolve the dispute. The arbitrator has 48 hours to give their decision after being hired.
If the arbitrator upholds the NHL’s rejection of the contract, Kovalchuk will become an unrestricted free agent. He would be free to restructure his deal with the Devils or sign with another team. Reportedly, the Kings are still interested in the left-winger, and offered him a 15-year, $80 million deal before he signed with the Devils. SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League also offered Kovalchuk a four-year, $40 million contract.
If the arbitrator rules that the deal falls in line with the collective bargaining agreement and the NHL was wrong to reject it, the league would have to immediately approve and register the contract.
Kovalchuk and the Devils could re-structure the deal before that point, but neither sides seem willing to explore that option.
Keep checking Running With The Devils for any further news on the NHLPA’s decision.