We thought the wait for Ilya Kovalchuk to sign has finally ended. Monday, the 27-year-old winger announced a jaw-dropping 17-year deal with the New Jersey Devils, with whom he finished the 2009-2010 season.
As expected, Kovalchuk's decision, which had been keeping NHL fans and experts alike on the edge of their seats for nearly three weeks, stirred the league into yet another "Free Agent Frenzy."
Just hours afterward, Philadelphia traded longtime forward Simon Gagne to Tampa Bay for defenseman Matt Walker and a fourth-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The Flyers needed the deal to free up much-needed cap space, but Gagne's addition also creates an intimidating foursome of forwards for the Lightning, with Gagne added to the trio of Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier, and recently re-signed Martin St. Louis.
But perhaps Philadelphia's trade was done too soon; less than 24 hours after Kovalchuk signed the deal that would let the Devils get away with him for only a $6.0 milion cap hit, the NHL rejected the contract, saying it "violates the Collective Bargaining Agreement".
While I'm not yet going to add Kovalchuk back into this compilation, as an eventual contract with New Jersey still seems by far the most likely resolution, it is worth noting.
However, no matter to Kovalchuk's contract specifics, one team that was reportedly involved in discussions surrounding both Kovalchuk and Gagne but has been left out of the fun is the Los Angeles Kings. Surprisingly, though, with those two moves, the headlines actually may shift to the Kings, the former team of perhaps the best free agent left: Alexander Frolov.
Nonetheless, Frolov still isn't alone. While according to The Fourth Period's rankings, just 11 of their original top-30 free agents are still unsigned, a plethora of experienced and productive players still remain, and there are still plenty of teams interested in them.
As mentioned previously, Kovy's deal may suddenly spring plenty of new deals and trades around the league. Here are 25 free agents who may be the most likely to receive some interest in the coming days.