We should know by Monday evening in which direction Ilya Kovalchuk
's roller coaster free agency saga will be turning next.
The National Hockey League Players' Association has a 5 p.m. ET deadline to file a grievance on behalf of Kovalchuk against the NHL, which rejected the Russian scorer's contract with the New Jersey Devils
last week that was written for 17 years at a reported $102 million.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement that the League rejected Kovalchuk's contract "as a circumvention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement." It is reportedly front-loaded with salary so the cap hit would be $6 million even though Kovalchuk would be making $98.5 million over the first 11 years of the deal.
According to The Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti, it appears the NHLPA is going to go ahead and file a grievance on Kovalchuk's behalf prior to the deadline. If they choose not file a grievance, Kovalchuk will become an unrestricted free agent again.
Gulitti reports that the lawyers for the NHLPA have been studying the facts and interviewing all parties involved in the contract negotiations, including Kovalchuk, Devils President/GM/CEO Lou Lamoriello and player agent Jay Grossman, who represents Kovalchuk.
Provided the NHLPA files the grievance, the League and the PA must agree on the hiring of a "system" arbitrator to rule the case. How long it takes to hire an arbitrator remains to be seen, but once there is one in place, he or she will have 48 hours to rule on the grievance.
Kovalchuk's status will swing one of two ways once the still to be determined arbitrator hears the case: His contract with the Devils will either be upheld so he can play under it, or he will become an unrestricted free agent again.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl