FINALLY, this will be reality. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
If you wanted to see Ilya Kovalchuk re-signed as a New Jersey Devil or at least an end to this summer-long saga of the Devils and Kovalchuk trying to work out a contract the NHL would approve, then today may be your lucky day. Reports are coming out that the NHL will accept the $100 million, 15 year contract between the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk.
There are multiple reports, here are a few. First, Darren Dreger of TSN has reported that the NHL will accept the contract as part of a larger agreement between the NHL and NHLPA about CBA negotiations. Second, even ESPN has a short blurb reporting the same news. Third, Sportsnet has went a little further, with a big graphic along with the year-by-year breakdown of the contract. Fourth, Tom Gulitti also reports that the deal will be accepted, along with the reminder that the Devils now have to get underneath the salary cap.
Nothing is official from the NHL just yet; but given that major hockey media outlets and reporters are confident enough to report it, I'm confident enough to join in - hoping there aren't any more surprises. There will definitely be more details later, especially about what amendments to the CBA will be made; so expect this post to be updated later today.
And before anyone asks, here are my thoughts on who the Devils should to trade away to get underneath the salary cap. Posted back in mid-July, you know, when the Devils made the first signing. It's still applicable today unless something goes horribly awry before 5 PM. Either way, good luck to Lou for going to have make some deals in less than a month. But for now, Lou, Jeff Vanderbeek, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jay Grossman, the players, the coaches, the marketing staff, and the many Devils fans all around the world can breathe a little easier.
UPDATE #6: From kellyn in the comments, Gulitti is now hearing 9 PM EDT as the new deadline. This would be deadline #4 at this point. You know, I'm going to stop updating these until there's some actual, more solid news than just "The NHL and PA need more time." This is ridiculous.
UPDATE #5: Per njss4 in the comments to this post, Dan Rosen just tweeted that the deadline is now 8 PM EDT. In a word: Sigh. Who is Dan Rosen? A writer at NHL.com, so it's good. What's not good? Tom Gulitti hearing that the Devils could still be penalized for the first Kovalchuk contractt - the one that Richard Bloch ruled that the Devils did not act in bad faith. The one that was ruled on nearly a month ago, and rejected weeks before then. Thanks to kellyn in the comments for finding that.
UPDATE #4: While we await the paperwork to be officially done (Gulitti tweeted there may be another extension into this evening to finish it), Darren Dreger wrote up this article at TSN regarding the new amendments to the CBA. They only deal with any contract longer than 5 years. It's more meaty than his earlier tweets, so do read it.
Basically, any cap hit for years past age 41 will count for the full value - they won't be included in the average annual value used prior. Plus, the average annual value for players from age 36 through 40 can't be lower than $1 million. These rules won't affect current contracts or the Kovalchuk deal, but future ones (e.g. Zach Parise's extension).
Lastly, I've moved Update #1 and #2 beyond the jump for historical purposes. Once this is made official, I'll update the larger text accordingly while moving other updates beyond the jump. Thanks for your patience.
UPDATE #3: NHL.com announced that the deadline was extended...to 7 PM EDT. So in less than 30 minutes, there should be something official. Finally.
Darren Dreger of TSN has tweeted some regulations - what a long-term deal is, what defines actual value for said long-term deals, the minimum AAV for players aged 36-40, and what this effects.
UPDATE #2: From user kellyn in the comments, Darren Dreger has this disappointing tweet:
The NHL and NHLPA have extended the 5pm deadline to finalize agreement.
I hope, I hope, I hope this is just for formal purposes. After all of the reports, anything more would be ridiculous.
Jay Grossman, Kovalchuk's agent, confirmed the agreement in an e-mail, The Associated Press reported.
I think it's happening. Here's a second bit. With respect to CBA amendments, normally the NHLPA has to vote on it and get 20 out of 30 votes for approval. Tom Gulitti reported that's not needed in this tweet:
Correctiion. NHLPA board gave pre-authorization to negotiators to make this deal, so no vote will be needed.
I really think it's happening now. Speaking of CBA changes, Larry Brooks tweeted this take, saying the amendment move is a "victory" for other clubs. Not sure what the amendment exactly is, but per this tweet by Nick Kypreos, it appears that contracts won't use years beyond age 40 for the player to reduce the cap hit of a contract. If that's true, then based on Brooks' tweet, it's probably a stepping stone for hard term limits for the next CBA in 2012 - so teams, get your guys locked up long term in 2011! More later.
Just phoned Kovalchuk. "Ilya, can I congratulate you?" Contract approved? " - "Yes, true. Thank you," - Kovalchuk confirmed.
It's so close, you can taste it.