With the NHL’s rejection of Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year/$102 million contract, the New Jersey Devils will go back to the drawing board. Though I still firmly believe they will retain him, rumors will surely abound of other teams attempting to sign him. No matter where he goes, there is a way for a long-term deal worth major bucks to be handed out, and the best part is, it will be legal.
The contract will be a 13 year deal worth $84.5 million. It will be structured in a way that he will make $10 million per season for the first five years, $6.5 for the next three, $4.5 for the next one, and finally, $3.5 million for the last three years.
This new deal takes Kovalchuk until he turns 40, which is a much more reasonable age to still be playing at. The cap hit will now only be slightly higher, at $6.5 million. The Devils will still be able to afford him, and Kovalchuk could conceivably play out all 13 years.
For this deal, everyone would be happy. The Devils lock up their man, the NHL is satisfied, and Kovalchuk makes out like a bandit.