Ilya Kovalchuk's immediate and potentially long-term future will be determined at an arbitration hearing that is currently taking place in Boston. The hearing is expected to conclude Thursday and arbitrator Richard Bloch should have a ruling as early as Friday and as late as Monday.
It is up to Bloch to determine if the NHL was within its legal right to reject the 17-year, $102 million contract Kovalchuk signed with the New Jersey Devils last month.
If Bloch determines that the League was right to reject the contract because, as NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly stated, it circumvents the Collective Bargaining Agreement, then Kovalchuk immediately will return to unrestricted free agent status. If Bloch rules that the contract is valid under the current CBA, then the League must immediately approve it.
Kovalchuk reportedly put off his return trip home to Russia in order to be present at the hearing. He was supposed to leave to start training in his country on Aug. 1.
The Devils and Kovalchuk announced his signing at a gala press conference at Prudential Center on July 19, but one day later Daly made his statement announcing that the League rejected the contract "as a circumvention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement."
The NHLPA on July 26 announced that it had "filed a grievance disputing the NHL's rejection of the Standard Player Contract between the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk."
As a result of the NHLPA's grievance, the League and the Players' Association had to jointly agree upon a "system arbitrator" to rule on the matter. Bloch, a New Jersey native and Washington D.C. resident who has ruled on several arbitration cases within the NHL in the past, was chosen.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl