NHL Returns First-Round Draft Pick Devils Lost For Circumventing Salary Cap

The NHL punished the New Jersey Devils for salary cap circumvention in 2010 when they re-signed star forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a 17-year contract worth $102 million, of which $95 million was front-loaded into the first 10 years.

An independent arbitrator ruled against the Devils, and they were forced to relinquish a first-round pick in any draft from 2011-14, pay a $3 million fine and give up a third-round selection in 2011. The Devils were able to choose which draft they would not use their first-round choice, and since the franchise decided not to give one up in 2011-13, it would automatically have its pick taken away in 2014.

On Thursday, the league announced New Jersey would not have to surrender a first-round pick in June’s draft, and will instead pick at the end of the round (30th overall). The Devils are also getting back $1.5 million of the fine that the team paid, per TSN.

This is a huge break for the Devils, a franchise that needs as many first-round picks as possible to restock the cupboard and build depth in its prospect pool again.

Kovalchuk retired from the NHL after the 2013 season and signed a deal to play in the KHL, which is the top hockey league in his home nation of Russia.