League either did or didn't pre-approve deal that either is or isn't 15 years/$100MM

Source: NHL expected to accept latest Kovalchuk, Devils proposal - Puck Daddy - NHL  - Yahoo! Sports
The latest contract proposal between free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) and the New Jersey Devils will be accepted by the NHL, a source close to the negotiation told Puck Daddy Friday afternoon.

i.e. the contract is pre-approved.

The report was confirmed by Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record, who later added the NHL must still do a complete review of the framework and that it is "more than a formality."

i.e. the contract is not pre-approved.

There was -- as anyone who has been following along on Twitter can attest -- a lot of back and forth on what was or wasn't happening today. League did sign off on the framework. No, they didn't. It's 15 years/$100MM. Um, or close to that.

At this point, nobody needs to point out that the difference between 15 years and "close to that" is the difference between a deal and no deal. [MORE...]

If it turns out to be literally $100MM/15yrs, I don't think (as some have commented) this represents the league "wimping out." This whole exercise has always been a game of inches. Fifteen years, especially after the arbitrator's ruling, was always the outer limit of what was remotely possible (given the Hossa contract, taking Hossa to age 42). Thirteen years would be (would have been) all but completely safe, but of course the Devils would have a much harder time making a 13 year deal work. Thus, the need to push the so-called envelope.

It makes perfect sense for Lamoriello to reason that it's okay to take the player to the age of 42, okay for there to be a tail as long as it doesn't dip below $1MM/yr (at rock bottom), okay for there not to be any special NMC accommodations which make it even easier for the team to let itself off the cap hook in later years. In that context, $100MM/15yrs works, provided that the league is willing to be less draconian and allow a Hossified deal, and not require that Kovy be fully Franzened. I imagine (if those really are the numbers) it might look something like:

2010    6
2011    6
2012    9.5
2013    9.5
2014    9.5
2015    9.5
2016    9.5
2017    9.5
2018    8.5
2019    8.5
2020    5.5
2021    2.5
2022    2
2023    2
2024    2

Lou seemed to need a couple years at 6 last time around. Kovalchuk seems to want Ovechkin money for awhile (and may also want the magic number of $100MM total), and the league needs the term and the tail not to be a joke. If Kovalchuk retires after ten years, he would be leaving about $14MM on the table, which is more than last time around, so that counts as a small sacrifice on his part. Lamoriello compromises on cap hit by accepting up to $6.67MM, and the league compromises by not recquiring a max 13 year deal.

I wouldn't be surprised to see 14 years, though. Whatever it is, I can't imagine LL would submit a contract he thought there was a chance of the league rejecting. The plot of this story couldn't get that crazy, could it?

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