FanPost

Why The Kovalchuk Contract Is Unique

Those who are upset at the NHL's dismissal of the Kovalchuk contract say it's unfair because they didn't dismiss the contracts for Chris Pronger, Henrik Zetterberg, Rick Dipietro, Marian Hossa, Johan Franzen, or Roberto Luongo. I'm going to take a look at those contracts and see how they compare to Kovy's. 

Chris Pronger

In effect: Age 35
Length: 7 years
35+ Rule
Cap hit: $4.9M
MAS (max annual salary): $7.6M for two years
LAS (lowest annual salary): League minimum for two years

The big neutralizer for me is the 35+ Rule that's in place. On top of that, the difference between the cap hit and MAS is $2.7M (55% of the cap hit), and it's only for two years. The league minimum on the last two years raises some eyebrows, but it's only two years, as opposed to six.

Henrik Zetterberg

In effect: Age 28
Length: 12 years
Cap hit: $6.1M
MAS: $7.75M for three years
LAS: $1M for 2 years

This contract ends when Z is 40, which is older but not totally unrealistic. The difference between the cap hit and MAS is $1.65M (27% of the cap hit), and at least his LAS is above league minimum, and only for two years. 

Johan Franzen

In effect: Age 29
Length: 11 years
Cap hit: $4M
MAS: $5.5M for for 1 year
LAS: $1M for 2 years

This contract is very similar to Zetterberg's. The difference between the MAS and the cap hit is $1.5M (38% of the cap hit), and that's only for one year. 

Rick DiPietro:

In effect: Age 25
Length: 15 years
Cap hit: $4.5M
MAS: $4.5M
LAS: $4.5M

I don't think Dipietro is relevant to this discussion. Yea it's a long contract, but that's not what the NHL cares about. He gets the same money every year, and it's not obvious that he's going to retire or will be given incentives to do so because of the structure of the contract. 

Roberto Luongo:

In effect: Age 31
Length: 12 years
Cap hit: $5.3M
MAS: $10M for 1 year
LAS: $1M for two years

This puts Luongo on the ice until he's 43. I think that's fishy, but the structure of the contract muddies the water a bit. The difference between the cap hit and the MAS is $4.7M (87% of the cap hit), but that's only for one year. Luongo gets reasonable money the next 7 or 8 years, and it's not like the Canucks put him down for $10 the first 5 years and only league minimum for the rest. He'll get no less than $1M any year, and there's only two throwaway years tacked on. 

Marian Hossa:

In effect: Age 30
Length: 12 years
Cap hit: $5.3M
MAS: $7.9M for 7 years
LAS: $1M for 4 years

This contract keeps Hossa going until he's 42. It's unlikely he'll play that long, but there are some mitigating circumstances. The difference between the MAS and the cap hit is $2.6M (49% of the cap hit), and there's a lot of consistency in this contract: Hossa basically sees only two salary levels over the course of the contract. He's also getting paid above league minimum at all times, and there are only 4, at most, throwaway years on the end. 

Ilya Kovalchuk:

In effect: Age 27
Length: 17 years
Cap hit: $6M
MAS: $11.5M for 5 years
LAS: League minimum for six years

The length of this contract is at least five years longer than any of the other players. The difference between the cap hit and MAS is $5.5M (92% of the cap hit). Not only is that the largest proportion of the cap hit among those surveyed, but it's also the most in absolute terms, since Kovalchuk would get $57.5M over five years while Hossa gets $55.3M over 7 years. However, the most damning part of this contract has to be the end of it. No player has six throwaway years, and no one has league minimum for more than two. 

Overall, the thing that separates Kovy's contract from the others is it's structure. The Devils really made no attempt to try and temper the impression of this contract, and I think that's the main reason the NHL went after this one: it's such a blatant violation. 

If this FanPost is written by someone other than one of the blog's editors, the opinions expressed in it do not necessarily reflect those of this blog or SB Nation.

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