Can we put it to bed yet? Probably not. It’s likely just getting started.
Photo courtesy Yardbarker.com
Arbiter Richard Bloch ruled in favour of the NHL today, stating that Kovalchuk’s 17 year contract was in direct violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. This issue would probably have never gotten out of hand if the final five years of the prospective contract weren’t under $1M. And, as much as I don’t like to, I’ve got to go with the league (and the arbiter) on this one.
This contract was a blatant attempt at circumventing the NHL salary cap, freeing up as much as $3M extra per year during the most expensive years of this contract.
Kovalchuk is now a free agent, and he can sniff from whatever flower patch he desires. That may be the New Jersey Devils, it may be the LA Kings, it might even be the KHL for all we know. I’m glad this matter is finally put to bed, however I’m afraid that similar circumstances may pop up in the future.
Did the NHL wait too long to get tough on this style of contract? Probably. It’s unfortunate for Kovalchuk, but it was just a matter of time before a contract was going to be shot down. And this one was ridiculous enough.
In Edmonton, Winger Liam Reddox has signed a one year, two-way deal. Reddox saw spot duty with the big club last year, playing in nine games. Likely to start in OKC this year, Reddox tallied 35 points in 70 games last year in Springfield.
There are some great AHL players being brought in for the OKC Barons first season in the AHL. Aside from the majority of the team that was in Springfield last year, players like Ben Ondrus, Alexandre Giroux, Shawn Belle, and tough customer Gregory Stewart have been brought in to make what looks like a very, very competitive AHL squad. And, whoever starts in goal is likely to have some NHL experience under his belt.
Now if the Big Club can get Sam Gagner to sign on the dotted line, I’d say we’d be just about ready to go.