Source: NHL expected to accept latest Kovalchuk, Devils proposal

The latest contract proposal between free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) and the New Jersey Devils will be accepted by the NHL, a source close to the negotiation told Puck Daddy Friday afternoon.

The report was confirmed by Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record, who later added the NHL must still do a complete review of the framework and that it is "more than a formality." We've already seen one press conference held for a contract that never happened, of course.

The proposal, the terms of which have yet to be released, was expected to address the various aspects of Kovalchuk's 17-year, $102 million contract that was rejected by the NHL and an arbiter, who subsequently upheld the league's ruling.

(UPDATE: Per Gulitti, the NHL has an actual contract and will have five days to review it. He also reports it could be a 15-year, $100 million deal.)

The NHL rejected Kovalchuk's contract with the Devils on the evening of July 20, hours after a press event at Prudential Center; on July 26, the NHL Players Association filed a grievance on Kovalchuk's behalf and the case when to arbitration.

Systems arbitrator Richard Bloch found in favor of the NHL in the case, saying in part in his ruling (.pdf):

The elements of this Agreement are unique. They include the age of the Player, the dramatic diveback after 11 years, the notable frontloading of the compensation, the relatively minimal payment during the 6-year tail of the contract and the clear incentives and ability of the team to move the Player out and likely rid itself of the continuing salary cap burden during the out years of the contract. All this supports the League's conclusion that it is reasonably unlikely the last years of this contract will be performed.

In other words, Kovalchuk's contract was seen as more egregious in its front-loading and its potential escapes (without salary cap consequences) for the Devils than other cap-friendly contracts that have thus far avoided rejection, like those for Marian Hossa(notes) and Roberto Luongo(notes).

In the weeks that followed, the Devils, Kovalchuk's representatives and the NHL met to discuss a "framework" for a new deal. One such proposal was rejected earlier this week due to Kovalchuk's age at the end of the deal.

We'll update if and when the contract is submitted and approved, and the terms of that contract. I will also update this situation via Twitter.

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