How the rejected Kovalchuk deal was different and similar to other 'fishy' contracts

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for kovyandparise.jpgThere are two basic sides in the argument for or against the decision to invalidate Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract with the New Jersey Devils.

Many of the people who side with Kovalchuk and the NHLPA point to other curious contracts handed out, like the one Marian Hossa signed with Chicago (that will bring him into his 40s) or the one Henrik Zetterberg signed with Detroit. On the other hand, people who agree with the league’s point say that Kovalchuk’s deal was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Expecting him to play at age 44, they say, is absurd.

Whichever side you fall on, there’s no doubt that you’ll find some fishy numbers in many of these contracts.

Taking the details from Joe’s post about what would have been Kovalchuk’s deal plus the year-by-year salaries of Chris Pronger, Zetterberg and Hossa, I made a side-by-side comparison for the visual learners out there. I did this on the fly, so it might look a little “off,” but should be a nice visual aid for anyone else who wants to compare and contrast. was a valuable resource in this study, as usual. (Click to enlarge.)


Kovalchuk’s deal vs. Pronger’s

How they’re alike: Both feature years with minimum wage salaries at the end, each one includes a pivotal season or two where the salary drops considerably – but not completely – before the bottom falls out.

prongervshossa.jpgHow they’re different: Though the Flyers assumed otherwise, Pronger’s deal is a 35+ contract which means his cap hit remains whether he retires or not. Pronger will obviously be much older when his contract begins. Pronger’s contract starts at its peak while Kovalchuk’s biggest years kick in starting in Year 3.

Kovalchuk’s deal vs. Hossa’s

How they’re alike: A big chunk of both deals see the players taking absurdly low salaries that many assume those guys will never actually play for (more on that after the jump). Both have a midpoint where there’s a serious though not extreme drop in salary before the bottom falls out. Hossa was a little older when he signed his deal, but they end pretty close age-wise.

How they’re different: Kovalchuk’s deal declines in a more staggered way, though: ($11.5M to 10.5 to 8.5 to 6.5 from 16-17 to 19-20). Hossa’s starts out the biggest while Kovalchuk’s biggest years begin in Year 3. While $1 million isn’t much for Hossa to play for, it’s slightly more conceivable than Kovalchuk’s minimum wage seasons.

Kovalchuk’s deal vs. Zetterberg’s

How they’re alike: Their biggest money doesn’t come right away. Both are structured somewhat similarly to Marian Hossa’s contract.

How they’re different: Zetterberg’s drop-off is arguably more arbupt (from 7 to 3.35 to 1). Like Hossa’s deal, it’s at least a bit more conceivable to imagine Zetteberg playing for $1 million than it is to see Kovalchuk playing for $550K.

After the jump, I’ll share a few more of the sticking points … but also why the Devils might have reason to feel wronged.

hzetterberg40.jpgAs Joe mentioned, the sticking point seems to be that the deal would assume Kovalchuk would play until he was 44. Another big factor is that those “wink wink retirement years” are even more slap-you-in-the-face obvious that the other curious contracts. Here’s how I look at the last few years for each player.

Pronger: One mid-range year ($4M) and two inconceivable years if it wasn’t a 35+ ($525K).

Hossa: One mid-range year ($4M) and four inconceivable years ($1M).

Zetterberg: One mid-range year ($3.35M) and two inconceivable years ($1M).

Kovalchuk: One mid-range year although his contract staggers down for four years ($3.5M) and six inconceivable years.

In summation, Kovalchuk’s deal is something of a Frankenstein Monster of the other bad contracts. It adds even more inconceivable years (basically as many as Hossa and Zetterberg probably won’t play combined) to the longest contract handed out and would end with him at the oldest age.The one saving grace is that it at least drops a little less abruptly than some of the other ones, going from $11.5M to $10.5M to $8.5M then $6.5M and finally hitting that mid-range year at $3.5M.

Such a mind-blowing combination gives some credence to the conspiracy theorists who wonder if Lou Lamoriello was “sending a message” with this deal and assumed it wouldn’t actually be approved. I’m not sure I believe that’s true, but it did feel like the Devils GM more or less slapped the league with a glove and challenged Gary Bettman & Co. to an arbitration duel.

Don’t be surprised if we provide another exhaustive study once a new Kovalchuk contract appears.

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    Royal pain: Kings’ Greene to have shoulder surgery, out indefinitely

    Jiri Hudler, Matt Greene
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    The Los Angeles Kings lost one of their most veteran defensemen on Tuesday, as the club announced Matt Greene would be out indefinitely following shoulder surgery.

    Greene, 32, had only appeared in three games this season, missing extensive time with the ailment. He had recently resumed skating with teammates and looked to be on the way back to a return, but never got to the point where he was participating in drills, or taking contact.

    With Greene out of the lineup, the Kings have primarily gone with a six-man defensive unit of Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, Christian Ehrhoff, Jamie McBain and Brayden McNabb. Derek Forbort and Jeff Schultz have also been in the mix, but sparingly.

    If Greene misses extensive time, L.A. could be in the market for a defenseman come trade deadline day, like they were last year before acquiring Andrej Sekera from Carolina. Greene is one of the most playoff-tested players on the L.A. roster, with 79 games and two Stanley Cups on his resume (and another Stanley Cup Final, with Edmonton in 2006).

    Looks like the Canucks will have an interesting lineup tonight

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    The Vancouver Canucks got banged up last night in Anaheim. As a result, it looks like they’ll have an interesting lineup tonight in Los Angeles.

    Coach Willie Desjardins confirmed this morning that wingers Chris Higgins and Jake Virtanen were hurt and wouldn’t dress against the Kings.

    In game-day line rushes, AHL callup Andrey Pedan, a defenseman, was skating on the wing with Jared McCann and Radim Vrbata.

    But hold on, that doesn’t necessarily mean Pedan will make his NHL debut tonight. This morning, the Canucks announced they’d called up d-man Alex Biega from AHL Utica. Theoretically, inserting Biega could allow the offensively inclined Yannick Weber to move up to forward. Biega and Weber both shoot right. Pedan shoots left.

    But wait, there exists another possibility — that both Pedan and Biega could play. That will depend on Chris Tanev‘s status. He got banged up yesterday as well, though he was able to skate this morning.

    Confused? It’s OK. So is everyone.

    As an aside, the Canucks not only got banged up last night, they also got pushed around and embarrassed in a 4-0 loss to the Ducks.

    On that note, here’s what Pedan did to Jarred Tinordi in a Utica-Hamilton game last season:

    Francis, Kurri, McKenzie named to Hockey Hall of Fame committee

    Ron Francis
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    The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee added some big names on Tuesday — most notably, a pair of Hockey Hall of Famers.

    Ron Francis (inducted in 2007) and Jarri Kurri (2001) have been appointed to the committee, the Hall announced. Longtime hockey scribe and hockey insider Bob McKenzie was also named; together, he and Francis and Kurri will replace an outgoing trio of Lanny McDonald, Mike Emrick and Peter Stastny.

    Francis currently serves as the GM in Carolina while Kurri holds the same title with Jokerit of the KHL.

    More, from

    McDonald resigned his spot on the committee to become chairman, while the terms of Stastny and Emrick expired.

    The Hall also announced Eric Duhatschek, Michael Farber and Bill Torrey were reappointed to the selection committee for a further three-year term.

    The next big meeting for the new members of the selection committee comes in late June, when everyone gathers to consider candidates for the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame.

    The announcement for new inductees will be made on June 27. As we’ve written about in the past, the list of first-time eligible entrants isn’t exactly overwhelming, so this could be the year some “passed over” candidates get in.

    Among those in that category? Eric Lindros, Dave Andreychuk, Mark Recchi and Jeremy Roenick, to name a few.

    Related: Poll: Who should be in the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame?

    Suter admits to ‘saying stuff I probably shouldn’t have said’


    For the Minnesota Wild, today was a day for damage control.

    Try to act surprised, OK?

    “We’re obviously on the same page,” defenseman Ryan Suter told the Star Tribune. “It’s a story that shouldn’t even be a story. I think the heat of the practice yesterday, I was just saying stuff I probably shouldn’t have said.”

    In case you missed it, what Suter said was that he shouldn’t be playing with a left-shot defenseman like Jonas Brodin.

    “I don’t know what [the coaches are] thinking,” said Suter.

    But in addition to that — and this was the really eye-opening stuff — Suter effectively questioned how head head coach Mike Yeo was reacting…

    …to the latest bit of adversity the Wild were facing.

    “Now’s when you need leadership more than ever,” said Suter. “It’s easy to be a coach and a leader when things are going good.”

    The Star Tribune has more on what everyone was saying today, so be sure to click on the story.

    Yeo, predictably, downplayed Suter’s remarks, chalking them up to a “guy that when you ask him to do something, he might tell you his opinions, but nobody will go out there and do it better than him.”

    The Wild take on the Blackhawks tonight at United Center (on NBCSN).

    Oh, and Suter will, indeed, skate with Brodin against the defending champs. Those two have only been together a bit this season, but they were a frequent pairing last season.

    Expected pairings (shoots)
    Ryan Suter (L) – Jonas Brodin (L)
    Marco Scandella (L) – Jared Spurgeon (R)
    Nate Prosser (R) – Matt Dumba (R)

    P.S. — This is why the Wild were hoping for better things from young Dumba.