Ilya Kovalchuk's rejected contract: So what happens next?

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Thumbnail image for ilyakovalchuk6.jpgBy this time, you should probably be aware that the NHL reportedly rejected Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million deal with the Devils. (If not, read about it here. I’ll wait. *crosses arms, looks at watch*)

While the league hasn’t made an official announcement on it yet, it seems like the Kovalchuk saga will continue yet again. I’m not sure if it should be compared to a seemingly invulnerable slasher movie killer like Freddy Krueger or something a bit more benign like a “Terminator” T-1000. Whichever lazy movie reference you’d like to attach to the situation, it’s obvious that the drama/agony is far from over.

Many on Twitter and other venues are asking: what’s next?

Though I tend to write about salary cap scenarios quite frequently, I’m no expert on the ins-and-outs of contract rejections/grievances so here are a few “expert” accounts of what should come next via Twitter. (I’d recommend following CapGeek’s Tweets in particular. If all the details don’t turn your brain to tapioca pudding, that is.)

First, here’s a quick take from Nick Kypreos.

PA has 5 days to file grievance. Then league/PA must find independent arbitrator that’s mutually agreed upon. Root canal sounds more fun!

TSN’s James Duthie explains the consequences of a potential arbitration.

If grieved, arbitration is binding. If arb. rules in favour of NHL, he is supposed to fix deal so it “conforms to the requirements” of CBA.

(Darren Dreger added that the deal would be “dead” if the NHL player’s association filed a grievance “until an arbitrator decides otherwise.”)

John Shannon reports that the contract could either be changed or a grievance could be filed within five days. Cap Geek says that a resolution could be reached within three days in a best case scenario while the worst case scenario would see the deal settled within 15 days. (Ugh.)

Kyle “Spector” Richardson provides a broader explanation of the next possible steps.

So now it’s up to either the Devils to restructure & re-file the contract or the PA to grieve it on Kovalchuk’s behalf.

Again, it’s important to note that the NHL hasn’t made an official announcement on the deal being rejected, although that might be a formality at this point. Who knows? This might just be a lot of mildly entertaining banter over a technicality or two, but the two sides could indeed go through an ugly and rare arbitration process. We’ll keep you up to date with everything from the rumors to the solid facts as this situation goes along.

My guess is that Gary Bettman and Lou Lamoriello might not be getting Christmas cards from each other this December, though.