Devils fined, lose two draft picks

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:18 PM ET

The long and winding road the New Jersey Devils tried to take around the salary cap with Ilya Kovalchuk turned out to be an expensive drive.

The club was fined $3 million US, stripped of a third-round draft pick next year and will have to give up a first rounder sometime in the next four drafts. The Devils have the call on the latter, but must let the league know at the conclusion of the Stanley Cup final of the year they will surrender the pick.

The Devils can appeal today at Tuesday’s NHL board of governors meeting in New York, but are not expected to get much support.

The fine will not come at the expense of the Devils’ tenuous cap space, which was the impetus for club to try and get Kovalchuk aboard for 17 years and $102 million, which the league rejected.

Independent arbitrator Richard Bloch, ruled that the deal was a deliberate attempted to circumvent the cap, front-loading $95 million in the first 10 years with no reasonable evidence that the Russian winger would be playing into his mid-40s to collect $7 million in the final seven seasons.

After fears a re-structured 15-year, $100 million pact would not get through, either, and that other long-term agreements signed by others in the past year with differenet clubs would be spiked, Kovalchuk’s new deal was signed and the NHLPA agreed to amendments on future mega-deals.

Devils’ general manager Lou Lamoriello, who many believe was throwing the big money around to satisfy ownership’s desire to get the team back on the map with a star player, said in a statement: “We disagree with the decision. We acted in good faith and did nothing wrong. We will have no further comment.”

Monday’s actions against the Devils put a little more pressure on Kovalchuk to show the team and the hockey world that he was worth all this sacrifice. The Devils already gave up forwards Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, defenceman Johnny Oduya and a first- and second-round pick as part of the trade with Atlanta. Kovalchuk said earlier this month that he intended to bring many Cup banners to the new arena in Newark.

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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