According to a very reliable source out of Russia, Dmitry Chesnokov, the New Jersey Devils have signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a 17 year deal worth $102 million. The salary cap hit for this deal will be $6 million. Congratulations to Lou Lamoriello for being able to land a 40-goal scorer for such a low amount.
However, the means of getting a cap hit that low should be illegal.
We saw it last year with Marian Hossa getting a 12 year deal from the Blackhawks to soften the cap hit to a very manageable $5.233 million. This deal will pay him $7.9 million for seven years, $4 million for the next one, $1 million for the next two, and then $750,000 for the final two years.
The Blackhawks were under investigation by the NHL because word leaked that they flat-out told Hossa he could retire before the contract expired so that they would save money in those final years.
The Devils have just doled out the longest contract in NHL history, topping only Rick DiPietro’s 15 year deal with the Islanders (how’s that working out for them?). This contract will take Kovalchuk until he turns 44 years old, but don’t think for a second he is going to play that long. He will be filthy rich and retire well before then.
According to the same source as above, the deal will pay Kovalchuk $10 million for the first eight years and $7.5 each for the next two. This means $95 million will be paid out in the first ten years, so Kovalchuk will then be making only $1 million each for the last seven years of his deal; years that he may not even play if he retires at 37, an age around where players call it quits.
This is not an attack on the Devils, but for the NHL to allow such ridiculous contracts to be signed. These are not done to lock up players long-term, but to cheat the system and lower cap hits. When the new CBA is up for discussion, this will surely be a burning-hot topic amongst league GM’s. Only question is, for teams that have already done this, will they be grandfathered in under the new terms? One would unfortunately think so.