In 2010, the New Jersey Devils did their best to circumvent the spirit of salary cap rules by signing Ilya Kovalchuk to a ridiculous 17-year, $102 million contract. The Blackhawks and Canucks had attempted something similar with Marian Hossa and Roberto Luongo and the Red Wings did it with two of their own players, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen. Each of them were signed for more than a decade to bring down the cap hit.
But the deal the Devils struck with Kovalchuk, the NHL arbitrarily decided, went too far. It made a joke of the last few years of a deal Kovalchuk never would have played out. So the league stepped in, supported by a ruling from an independent arbitrator that the Devils were indeed skirting the rules, and fined New Jersey $3 million, a third round pick and the forfeiture of a first round pick from one of the next four drafts. The Devils kept or traded the pick for the first three years, so this year they would have been without it.
That is, until today. The NHL decided to lighten the punishment by refunding half the $3 million fine and allowing the Devils to pick 30th overall this summer, no matter their finish. Though they aren’t allowed to trade that pick, it’s a much better situation for the Devils to be in than their original predicament. Read more