I wouldn't have thought it was possible. Kovalchuk has stretched this thing out for so long that the media has actually folded up its tents and gone home. Usually, stories that dominate the news have a better internal clock, a better sense of timing. LeBron James, who is a much bigger star than Ilya Kovalchuk, did a lot of things badly this summer, but he had the good sense not to say, I will announce my decision on Monday, on Friday, next week, or some day...
Obviously, to be fair, the whole arbitration sub-plot took a couple of weeks out of his schedule, but that at least was a plot twist that consumed the news cycle. It was a detour, but not a dull one. I can't help but notice that the three weeks before the rejection/arbitration and the two weeks since feel the same, the only difference being that the GMs have stopped talking and the press has stopped asking. Which is to say, everyone has tacitly acknowledged that nothing is happening. Nothing was happening then and the same nothing is happening now.
As I said back in the pre-rejection period, there really isn't that much to "work out." You can alter the dollars and alter the term, that's it. Yes, there can be a signing bonus. Yes, there are many different ways to structure the salary (front-load, back-load, bell-curve, level). So what? The process is sufficiently straight-forward that nearly every free agent is able to negotiate his deal within a few seconds of being on the clock on 7/1. The CBA doesn't even allow the SPC to be altered from the form provided as an attached exhibit (except obviousy to fill in the blanks of name, team, salary, term...). It's literally a form.
I said previously that if Kovalchuk were willing to come down to around $91MM (from $102MM) -- or if Lamoriello were willing to take a $7.5MM-8MM cap hit -- it would be easy to make a deal. The fact that there is no deal means that someone is not willing to compromise.
(No, I don't think it's something as pleasant as Lou saying, "hey, I'll give you your $9.5MM but I have to dump salary first." Lamoriello can sign Kovalchuk at that price already. He would have to move salary by the start of the season, but he doesn't have to do it first.)
At this point, I don't think there's really any reason to believe that Kovalchuk is more likely to sign with the Devils (or the Kings, for that matter; or the Islanders, or the Thrashers, or Leafs or Ducks) than with anybody else.
I wonder if Kovy is willing to sit out? Would he wait on the sidelines for a team to realize (in November or December, say) that it needs help badly? I can see Grossman making that argument, actually. "We can sit out the beginning of the season. Maybe somebody's star will get hurt and you can sign a one-year deal in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Washington, San Jose or Chicago...somewhere you wouldn't normally be able to play because of those teams' cap issues. Then you can win a cup and next summer we'll really be able to get you that $100MM!"
That makes sense to me. Yeah, I don't think Kovalchuk has any particular need to rush anything. He's bored everyone to tears already.