Ilya Kovalchuk's deal deadline moved

Updated: September 2, 2010, 9:06 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Ilya Kovalchuk's wait continues.

The deadline to accept or reject the New Jersey Devils' contract offer to the star forward was extended from 5 p.m. ET Wednesday to 5 p.m. ET Friday.

The NHL and the players' association "mutually agreed to extend" the deadline, according to an NHL statement.

After the league rejected the Devils' initial 17-year, $102 million deal and an arbitrator sided with the NHL in an Aug. 9 decision, the team submitted a new contract for approval last week.

The league had five days from Aug. 27 to approve the new deal, believed to be a 15-year contract worth approximately $100 million.

Kovalchuk
Kovalchuk

Devils president Lou Lamoriello said the team is aware of the extension.

"We remain confident that the terms of this contract comply, in every respect, with the CBA and meet both the NHL's concerns and the principles of Arbitrator [Richard] Bloch's decision," Lamoriello said in a statement. "We remain optimistic that this extension will result in an approval of the contract and that Ilya Kovalchuk will remain a valuable member of the Devils for the balance of his career.

"We will have no further comment until the decision is rendered."

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

The NHLPA subsequently filed a grievance, forcing the matter to an arbitration hearing.

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.

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

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.

Information from ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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