It’s hard to argue with the NHL’s reasoning…
With a 17-year, $102 million contract on the line, Ilya Kovalchuk has been the main topic of conversation within the hockey world. The fact that this deal with the New Jersey Devils was rejected by the NHL for salary cap circumvention only sparks more controversy and more debate. The contract was rejected because of the front loaded design. Kovalchuk stood to earn much less at the end of the contract to lower the cap hit.
At issue is whether or not Kovalchuk can play out the terms of the contract. At 27, it’s not impossible for him to play until age 42. After all, Chris Chelios of the Atlanta Thrashers has continued to play at the age of 48.
But by letting this deal go through, would the NHL set a nasty precedent that would allow teams to circumvent the salary cap? What’s to stop the next team from giving a player a 25 year contract with a good portion being paid up front? It’s hard to blame the player and team for wanting a contract like this, but with so many people watching, the likelihood of a reversal is minimal.