On Tuesday, the NHL rejected the 17-year, $102 million contract that was agreed between winger Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils. This is only one of the more ridiculous contracts handed out in the NHL in recent years.
Marian Hossa signed a 12-year deal, $59 million with the Chicago Blackhawks last off-season, a deal that was front-loaded with money, as many of the questionable contracts are.
Goalie Roberto Luongo signed a similar 12-year, $64 million deal with the Vancouver Canucks, signing him through age 43.
Forward Henrik Zetterberg signed a 12-year, $74 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings in 2009, a deal that is also very front-loaded.
This is the one that finally pushed the NHL over the edge, and for good reasons. 17 years is a ridiculous amount of time for a contract and it was time to put an end to the way the teams were getting around the salary cap.
What's Wrong With the Contract? Isn't It Within the Rules?
It is within the collective bargaining agreement, but the NHL has the right to examine every contract that is handed out and they decided that this one bent the rules too far.
Since the contract is front-loaded, Kovalchuk get's around $9 million per year for the first 11 years of the contract and under $1 million for the final six years, but the annual cap hit will only be $6 million.
The obvious issue here is that the Devils could just get rid of Kovalchuk after the first 11 years and it would be a good deal for both sides. The Devils would have had to pay him most of the money (good for the player), but the annual cap hit was much lower than what they actually would have paid him over those 11 years (good for the team).
Why Is This Contract Any Different than the Other Long Contracts Handed Out?
It really isn't much different, but I think the NHL finally decided that enough was enough. This long, front-loaded contract was becoming too popular throughout the league and was an unfair way to get around the rules of the salary cap.
Finally, Gary Bettman made the correct choice and hopefully set the precedent for these contracts no longer being handed out.
What Now for Kovalchuk?
I would assume that he still wants to sign with the Devils, but he is going to have to do it within some NHL guidelines.
If he doesn't like that, maybe he will go somewhere else, but that is another article.
For now, I'm glad the NHL stood up to the owners and players and put an end to this nonsense.