Forget about a record 17-year contract. Ilya Kovalchuk is a free agent once again.
According to NHL.com, systems arbitrator Richard Bloch determined the NHL was within its legal right to reject the 17-year, $102 million deal Kovalchuk signed with the New Jersey Devils in July.
The NHL Players' Association filed a grievance on Kovalchuk’s behalf, and Bloch heard arguments from both the NHL and NHLPA over two days in Boston last week.
Bloch’s ruling forces Kovalchuk to once again become an unrestricted free agent.
"We want to thank arbitrator Bloch for his prompt resolution of a complex issue," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told NHL.com. "His ruling is consistent with the league's view of the manner in which the collective bargaining agreement should deal with contracts that circumvent the salary cap."
The Devils could try to renegotiate a contract with Kovalchuk, but the three-time All-Star has the opportunity to negotiate with any team he wants.