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Friday, September 3, 2010
NHL, NHLPA agree; Kovalchuk a Devil

By Mike Hume

The NHL and its players association reached an agreement regarding the future treatment of long-term contracts today, allowing the Devils' contract with Ilya Kovalchuk to finally gain the league's validation.

The approval of the $100 million, 15-year pact ends a long, tumultuous free agency for the all-star winger, in which his first deal with the Devils was nixed by the NHL. But while this stage of the seemingly endless saga is over, related storylines are already picking up speed.

Kovy Cap Casualties

With Kovalchuk on board, New Jersey must now maneuver to get back under the $59.4 million salary cap before the end of training camp. To do so, the Devils will have to dump a little more than $3M from their current roster. In order to fill out the 23-man roster, they'll need to clear out even more. We discussed the most likely candidates earlier, but the list is headlined by Dainius Zubrus and Bryce Salvador. Given the length of time it's taken to get Kovalchuk's contract approved by the league, it is thought that Devils GM Lou Lamoriello may already have some trades lined up, but there have been no solid rumors to date.

The CBA

As was reported earlier in the New York Post, in exchange for the approval of the Kovalchuk contract -- and the allowance of earlier pacts signed by the likes of Marian Hossa and Roberto Luongo -- the NHL required the NHLPA to adjust the current collective bargaining agreement to close a loophole exploited by excessive long-term contracts. Reports Friday afternoon signaled that the sides did agree on an amendment, but details are still emerging as to the exact changes to the CBA. Early reports via Twitter suggest the changes will impact contracts that extend players past the ages of 35 and 40.

More to come this weekend as the dust settles.