NHL Rejects Ilya Kovalchuk's $102-Million Contract with Devils

Hours after the Devils announced signing the high-scoring forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a 17-year, $102 million contract, the N.H.L. rejected it Tuesday night because it would circumvent the league’s salary cap.

Kovalchuk and the Devils had agreed Monday to what would have been the longest contract in league history, but it was ruled illegal, said a person who had knowledge of the agreement but did not want to speak for attribution because the N.H.L. had not made an announcement.

The deal called for Kovalchuk to receive $550,000 in each of the last five years of the contract, allowing the team to soften the annual effect for salary-cap purposes. Under league rules, the annual cap figure for the Devils would have been the average per year — $6 million, a substantial break for seven of the seasons, New York Times reports.

Kovalchuk, 27, made a point at yesterday's press conference to assure everyone he would be playing at age 44.

The Devils are allowed to re-work the contract to the satisfaction of the league, which may be difficult to do given the collision of the total salary and the cap hit. New Jersey hired the NHL's cap specialist, Steve Pellegrini, to handle its cap issues after it had such trouble in the early years of this CBA.

In the past, the league permitted Alexander Ovechkin's 13-year, $124 million deal with a cap hit of $9.5 million and the 15-year contract signed by Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro, according to New York Post.

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