Arbitrator Richard Bloch's ruling on the Ilya Kovalchuk grievance yesterday could affect the registration of Marc Savard's seven-year, $28.05 million contract.
In Bloch's decision, acquired by Team 1200 legal analyst Eric Macramalla, the arbitrator upheld the NHL's rejection of Kovalchuk's 17-year, $102 million contract. In the decision, a footnote includes Savard's contract (others include those of Chris Pronger, Roberto Luongo, and Marian Hossa) as featuring a similar structure to Kovalchuk's rejected deal. Savard will be paid $7 million in 2010-11 and 2011-12; $6.5 million in 2012-13; $5 million in 2013-14; $1.5 million in 2014-15; then backdives to $525,000 in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
According to the footnote, Savard's contract has been registered but is being investigated once more by the league. According to the collective bargaining agreement, the NHL can conduct an investigation to determine whether circumvention took place even after a contract has been approved and registered.
"[W]hile the contracts have, in fact, been registered, their structure has not escaped League notice: those [Standard Player Contracts] are being investigated currently with at least the possibility of a subsequent withdrawal of the registration," the footnote reads. "It is also the case that the figures in Kovalchuk's case are demonstrably more dramatic, including a 17-year term length, a $102,000,000 salary total, and precipitous drop that lasts for the final six years of this contract."
The NHL investigated Savard's contract when he signed the seven-year extension on Dec. 1. Among others, the Bruins used Hossa's contract (12 years, $63.3 million with a four-year, $4 million tail to lower the annual cap hit to $5.275 million) when negotiating Savard's deal. The two-year tail on Savard's contract brings down his annual cap number to $4,007,143.
"We are cooperating fully with the league in its investigation of the Marc Savard contract extension," GM Peter Chiarelli said in a statement. "The league informed us upon their registration of the contract on December 1, 2009, that they would be investigating the circumstances surrounding this contract. From that point on, they commenced their investigation and it has been ongoing since then. On August 4th, I met with two league-appointed lawyers as part of the investigation. We will continue to cooperate with the league in any future investigative proceedings if necessary and we will have no further comment on the matter at this time."
If the NHL concludes circumvention took place in Savard's contract, the deal could be rejected and the center could become an unrestricted free agent. Of the four contracts cited in the footnote, only Hossa has been paid under the disputed structure. Last season kicked off Hossa's 12-year contract. The upcoming 2010-11 season is the first year in the respective contracts for Savard, Pronger, and Luongo.