New Ilya Kovalchuk contract submitted

Updated: August 28, 2010, 3:30 PM ET
By E.J. Hradek | ESPN The Magazine

The New Jersey Devils have submitted to the league for approval a new contract with star free agent Ilya Kovalchuk, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed to ESPN on Friday.

According to Daly, the league has five days to review the contract.

Daly said there will be no decision on the deal Saturday.

Although no specific details of the deal are known at this time, a source says it's a 15-year contract worth approximately $100 million.

Kovalchuk
Kovalchuk

"I can't get into it at all," Kovalchuk's agent, Jay Grossman, told The (Newark) Star-Ledger Friday. "We've never wavered from that [not commenting] from the beginning. It's of no benefit to us."

Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello did not return the Star-Ledger's call seeking comment.

This is the latest twist in Kovalchuk's turbulent summer. On July 19, the Devils held a news conference announcing they had signed Kovalchuk to a 17-year, $102 million deal, but the league rejected the contract the following day.

The NHLPA filed a grievance July 26 over the league's rejection, forcing an arbitration hearing to decide the matter.

On Aug. 9, arbitrator Richard Bloch upheld the league's decision to reject the contract, and Kovalchuk was returned to the free-agent market. Since then, the Devils have continued their efforts to sign the left wing.

On Monday, Grossman accompanied Lamoriello and Devils chairman/managing partner Jeff Vanderbeek to the NHL's New York office to meet with league executives to discuss possible concepts for a new deal.

That meeting and subsequent conversations between the parties have led to the new formal contract currently being reviewed by the league.

Earlier Friday, Kovalchuk's Russian agent, Yuri Nikolaev, told Russian newspaper SovSport that if Kovalchuk signs with a KHL team, he will spend the entire season there. The KHL, seeing the protracted negotiations, has been pursuing Kovalchuk and dangling large amounts of money in front of him. The KHL season begins Sept. 8.

Kovalchuk, with 338 goals and 304 assists in 642 career games, was one of the summer's top prizes.

He had 41 goals and 44 assists last season, when he was traded to the Devils by Atlanta in February. The 27-year-old left wing is the league's leading goal scorer since 2001.

E.J. Hradek is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.

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