NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman
The NHL has moved on from the Ilya Kovalchuk decision, but it has spiked new interest in the other front-loaded contracts around the league.
Investigations are being conducted league-wide on deals similar to that of Kovalchuk's and could ultimately end up creating one of the deepest free agent talent pools in what has been a dismal offseason thus far.
Notable players involved in the investigation are Marc Savard, Marian Hossa, Roberto Luongo, and Chris Pronger.
Most of the organizations are said to be cooperating fully with the League, including the Boston Bruins. "We are cooperating fully with the League in its investigation of the Marc Savard contract extension," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said.
However, the Philadelphia Flyers weren't as cooperative and accepting of the League's new case, as Flyers President Peter Lukko fired back at the League, stating, "The contract with Chris Pronger that we registered with the National Hockey League is one we certainly feel was a compliant contract.
"The Pronger contract is structured differently than the Kovalchuk contract. And it's been in effect well over a year."
One could argue the reason for the compliance of the Bruins, Canucks, and Blackhawks is because they wouldn't mind the opportunity to restructure these contracts—or in the case of the Bruins, maybe walk away from it all together.
If the NHL does find grounds to nix those contracts, every player involved would automatically become a free agent, creating a surge on the ever-so-quiet free agent market.
In a free agent class headed by Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrick Marleau, and Anton Volchenkov—two of which were quickly locked up—deeming these contracts void could really spark a new free agent frenzy with such big names hitting the market.
Many, including myself, feel the Kovalchuk case pushed the league's boundaries too far and was used as an example to the rest of the teams. If this is in fact the case, then expect the Bruins, Flyers, Blackhawks, and Canucks to get a "free pass" on their current contracts.
But if they don't and the league takes corrective action, it will be just like July 1 all over again to the pleasure of many hockey fans.
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