The summer-long Ilya Kovalchuk saga will be decided in 48-hours or less according to recent reports that state that Ilya Kovalchuk’s agent, Yuri Nikolaev, has given the NHL 48 hours to come up with a solution for his client or Kovalchuk will play elsewhere next season.
Kovalchuk initially signed a monster 17-year deal worth $102 million with the New Jersey Devils earlier this summer, but the deal was not approved by league officials due to the length of the contract, which would take Kovalchuk well into his 40’s, and for the blatent circumvention of the NHL salary cap. Framework for a new deal was presented to the NHL by Kovalchuk and the Devils earlier this week, but the new deal was also turned down. Speculations around the internet put the length of the new deal around 15 years, which would take Kovalchuk to 42 years of age. After the league rejected the framework for the second contract, it was reported that the two sides met late into the night in order to hammer out a new deal that was fair and worked in accordance to the rules of the salary cap.No new deal was made, however.
It is believed that if the deal isn’t completed within the 48-hour time span given by Kovalchuk’s agent that Kovachuk will instead sign with the KHL in Russia. It was reported earlier this summer that SKA St. Petersburgh of the KHL offered Kovalchuk a three-year deal worth $42 million. Kovalchuk has stated several times that he wishes to remain with the NHL, but with the KHL season set to begin on Sept. 8, Kovalchuk will need to make a decision sooner rather than later.
This very well may simply be a strategy by Kovalchuk’s agent to encourage the NHL to move things along and get a deal worked out with the Devils. However, if Kovalchuk does in fact leave the NHL for the KHL, he will by far be the biggest player defection to leave the NHL to play in the Russian league. It would also be a huge blow to the NHL as Kovalchuk is probably one of the top-10 players in the NHL right now and considered by many to even be the best pure goal scorer in the game today.
The Devils are set to open training camp on Sept. 17.