Ilya Kovalchuk Signs The Most Ridiculous Contract In NHL History

The Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes finally ended today, and not a moment too soon. Once all the numbers were done being crunched, T’s crossed and I’s dotted, it became obvious that the most logical conclusion for both the New Jersey Devils and Kovalchuk himself was to sign for seventeen years, and get on with it.

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 17: Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Prudential Center on March 17, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Seventeen years, 102 million dollars. This deal is even more ridiculous than the Rick DiPietro 15 year fiasco. Charles Wang and Long Island, you’re off the hook.

First things first, that’s a mammoth contract, and it’s a good day to be Ilya Kovalchuk. Quick maths would suggest that Kovalchuk would stand to make about $6M a year for the next decade and a half plus. But in the salary cap era, that’s not quite how it works out.

Kovalchuk’s deal is so front-loaded, it would make Enron executives proud.

In 2010-11 and 11-12, Kovalchuk stands to make the six million dollars a year his cap suggests. Then, from 2012-13 until the conclusion of 2016-17 (the next five seasons), he’ll rake in $11.5M per season – almost twice his cap number. He’ll pull in $10.5M in 2017-18, $8.5M in 2018-19, $6.5M in 2019-20, and $3.5M in 2020-21.

That makes $100M in his first 11 years of his contract, which rolls out to just over $9M per season in the first eleven of this contract. Because you’ve already added it up in your head, that would leave him about $2M TOTAL for the remaining years of his contract. It’s quite a ways down the road, but I’d bet you a couple of fish tacos that there’s a snowball’s chance in Hell that Ilya Kovalchuk will be caught dead in a New Jersey Devils uniform at the end of 2021. There’s not a chance that a 39 year old man will be playing for $750K or $550K in the same league that he was making $10M+ just two seasons prior.

Not a chance.

And here’s the kicker – what essentially should be a 9.1M cap hit over 11 years is essentially made a $6M cap hit over 17 years because of the “extra” six years on the end of the contract. I’m also akin to believe that the Devils wouldn’t be on the hook for the $6M cap hit because Kovalchuk is under 35 when this contract was signed.

Essentially, it’s a brilliant move to get Kovalchuk in his prime (if you’re a Devils fan) on the part of Leapin’ Lou Lamoriello and Kovalchuk or one great big shady deal (if you’re a player that’s not Ilya Kovalchuk) that likely will get a look at when the next CBA is brought up.

I’m sure it will be a topic of interest in the near future.

UPDATE: Darren Dreger of TSN has tweeted that the league has five days to review this signing, as they haven’t declared it official yet. I can’t imagine the league can do anything about it at this point, other than to put it on their ‘to-do’ list.

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