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.

CapGeek.com was a valuable resource in this study, as usual. (Click to enlarge.)

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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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    Datsyuk ‘wants to make sure the Wings have options,’ says his agent

    TAMPA, FL - APRIL 21:  Pavel Datsyuk #13 of the Detroit Red Wings checks his stick before a face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 21, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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    Pavel Datsyuk‘s future with the Detroit Red Wings and in the National Hockey League has been up in the air for a while now, as he’s linked to rumors of a return to Russia and the KHL.

    His agent, Dan Milstein, recently explained to the Detroit Free Press that Datsyuk’s future should become clear in mid-June after meeting with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.

    As per General Fanager, Datsyuk has one more year left on his current deal, which comes with a cap hit of $7.5 million.

    From the Detroit Free Press:

    “He would like to leave, but at the same time, he wants to make sure the Wings have options,” Milstein said. “He wants to help the team any way he can with the salary cap issue.”

    Wings general manager Ken Holland has said there are no loopholes. Because Datsyuk signed his last contract after he turned 35, his $7.5 million salary cap hit remains in tact even if Datsyuk departs. The Wings’ only option is to trade his contract to a team such as Arizona or Carolina that could use the hefty cap hit in order to be above the salary cap minimum.

    At the age of 37, his career in the league started in 2001-02, and has spanned 953 regular season games in which he’s accrued 918 points.

    He’s had a highly decorated career, with two Stanley Cup championships with the Red Wings, three Selke and four Lady Byng trophies.

    Allen or Elliott? Another goalie decision looms for Hitchcock

    ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues tends goal against Nick Spaling #16 of the San Jose Sharks during the third period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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    The St. Louis Blues need to win Game 6 on Wednesday, or their season is over. Who they decide to turn to in net is likely to be a talking point — heated debate, maybe? — leading up to that contest.

    Do they go back to Jake Allen for a third consecutive start, despite the fact he allowed four goals on 25 shots in Monday’s Game 5 loss to the San Jose Sharks? Or, will head coach Ken Hitchcock turn once again to Brian Elliott, who started every single game from the series opener of the first round versus Chicago to Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

    Hitchcock at least felt that going with Allen over Elliott in Game 4 provided the necessary spark for his team, as the Blues evened the series.

    But on Monday, the Sharks, on the strength of two Joe Pavelski goals, eventually overpowered the Blues for the win, moving San Jose one victory away from the Stanley Cup Final.

    “I thought he was fine. I don’t know, those are decisions we make in a day or so. But I thought he was fine today. He stopped some point-blank shots, especially early, three times early,” Hitchcock told reporters.

    “I don’t know. That’s stuff we’ll talk about tomorrow.”

    Feeding frenzy: Sharks send Blues to the brink of elimination in Western Conference Final

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    The San Jose Sharks won a back-and-forth Game 5 to take back the lead in a back-and-forth Western Conference Final, moving one victory away from appearing in the Stanley Cup Final.

    After scoring the tying goal late in the second period, Joe Pavelski notched his 12th of the playoffs to give San Jose the lead for good just 16 seconds into the third period.

    The Sharks earned a 6-3 victory on the road, in a bounce-back effort from Saturday.

    Twice, the Blues grabbed the lead. Troy Brouwer gave them the advantage in the first period, showing off his baseball skills by batting the puck into the net on a rebound. Robby Fabbri gave them another lead in the second period, making Roman Polak pay for snapping on Dmitrij Jaskin along the boards.

    But the Blues couldn’t hold on. The Sharks scored twice on three power play opportunities and can now clinch the Western Conference on home ice in Wednesday’s Game 6.

    As for the Blues, will Ken Hitchcock change up his starting goaltender again? It’s certainly an aspect of this series that will once again be up for debate leading up to Wednesday’s game.

    After Brian Elliott had backstopped the Blues through the first two rounds and started the first three games of this series, Hitchcock decided to start Jake Allen in Game 4.

    Allen recorded the win Saturday, and was called upon again in Game 5 as expected, but gave up four goals on 25 shots Monday.

    Video: Sharks’ Polak snaps, Blues make him pay on the power play

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    San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak took serious issue with St. Louis Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin during the second period, as the two eventually threw off the gloves off in a fight in the corner.

    In the process, Polak let his emotions get the better of him — he snapped — by also taking a roughing minor to give the Blues a power play.

    The Blues made him — and the Sharks — pay on a blast from Robby Fabbri, who was a game-time decision for Monday’s contest.

    The Sharks tied the game at 3-3 before the end of the second period on Joe Pavelski‘s 11th of the playoffs. Pavelski struck again in the third period, giving San Jose the 4-3 lead.