Ilya Kovalchuk is once again an unrestricted free agent as systems arbitrator Richard Bloch has determined the NHL was within its legal right to reject the 17-year, $102 million contract Kovalchuk signed with the New Jersey Devils in July.
Bloch heard arguments from both the NHL and the NHL Players' Association, which filed a grievance on Kovalchuk's behalf, over two days in Boston last week. His decision came late Monday afternoon. As a result of Bloch's ruling, Kovalchuk immediately returns to unrestricted free agent status.
Upon announcing the contract was rejected, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the League would not approve it because it was a "circumvention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement."
"We want to thank Arbitrator Bloch for his prompt resolution of a complex issue," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "His ruling is consistent with the League's view of the manner in which the Collective Bargaining Agreement should deal with contracts that circumvent the Salary Cap."