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 said the League would not approve it because it was a "circumvention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement."
The Devils can choose to re-work the contract in hopes of getting it approved, or Kovalchuk could look elsewhere.