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NHL Rejects Kovalchuk Deal | July
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UPDATE:  Reports now have the NHL rejecting the 17 year, $102 million deal Kovalchuk signed with New Jersey.  In the final five years of the contract Kovalchuk would only earn $550,000 per year; a low salary that drags down the average yearly rate across the rest of the contract.  The NHL has warned GMs in the past about these types of contracts and have finally said no to one.  The NHLPA has five days to challenge the NHL's ruling against the contract.  I'll keep things up to date as more news breaks.

18 days after free agency started, the most sought after free agent of the summer has finally made his decision.

Earlier today it was announced that Ilya Kovalchuk has resigned with the New Jersey Devils. Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed.

Acquired on February 4th in a pre-trade deadline deal with the Atlanta Thrashers, Kovalchuk played the final quarter of the season with New Jersey, before getting eliminated four games to one by Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs.

While the most valuable player available on the free agent market this summer, only a select amount of teams could pursue Kovalchuk considering the amount of money he was after. Two and a half weeks after the start of free agency, and after listening to deals from New Jersey, Los Angeles, the Islanders and SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, the 27 year old Russian decided to stay put.

The re-signing of Kovalchuk continues the transition of New Jersey being a defensive minded team into more of an offensive team with players like Parise and Zajac on the roster.

Kovalchuk remains on the team but he’ll be surrounded by several new faces as the Devils change up their roster after yet another disappointing first round playoff exit. A couple of key departures thus far this offseason are Rob Niedermeyer, Paul Martin and former Head Coach Jacques Lemaire. Key additions include new Head Coach John MacLean, former Devil Jason Arnott, defensemen Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder and back up goalie Johan Hedberg.

A press conference was held at 1pm today to announce the signing and reports have Kovalchuk being available to the media tomorrow.

UPDATE:  Reports now state Kovalchuk has signed a 17 year deal for over $100 million.  That would put him at 44 years old when this contract expires.  Expect the NHL to look into this contract just as they have with other long term deals.

UPDATE:  The player market, quite slow recently, is now rolling again.  Just hours after the Kovalchuk trade was announced, the Flyers traded Simon Gagne to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Matt Walker and a 2011 fourth round pick.  With this trade, Philly gets the right handed D-man they want and need and Tampa adds Gagne's offensive abilities to a front line already loaded with Stamkos, Lecavalier, St. Louis, Malone and Downie.  Floundering recently, look for Tampa to be a legitimate threat to make the playoffs this year.