Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 08/04/10 at 10:46 AM ET
from Mark Everson of the NY Post,
If, as expected, arbitrator Richard Bloch rules in favor of Kovalchuk, perhaps as late as Monday, his contract will be immediately validated. But then the Devils will have to find a way to shed some $5-6 million in salary-cap liability by season’s start to get under the $59.4 million lid and still have wiggle room for injuries.
Vital players would have to go, perhaps among Bryce Salvador, Colin White and Dainius Zubrus, either by trade or waiver/demotion.
Most important, such a verdict would validate heavily front-loaded contracts that the NHL claim circumvent the CBA, and become a major NHL demand for the next pact.
Should Bloch back the NHL and find that the contract is indeed an end-run around the CBA, Kovalchuk would again become an unrestricted free agent, and teams like the Kings and Rangers, as well as the Devils, would again be able to bid for his services in a more straight-forward salary arrangement.
Although it appears unlikely, the NHL then also would have the option of initiating its own punitive action against Kovalchuk and the Devils. A circumvention ruling off a league-filed action could cost the Devils $1.5 million in fines, with a similar amount deducted from their cap limit. Kovalchuk himself could be liable to a fine of $250,000-$1 million.
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