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Kovalchuk's contract details and why Kings 'weren't in the ballpark'

July 19, 2010 |  5:53 pm

A few more thoughts regarding Ilya Kovalchuk's decision to reject the Kings' 15-year, $80-million offer in favor of New Jersey's 17-year, $102-million contract:

It can't be a coincidence that the final number was $102 million. That makes it more--by $1 million--than the offer Kovalchuk turned down from Atlanta before the Thrashers traded him to New Jersey in February. He wanted Alexander Ovechkin-like numbers and no one thought he'd get $100 million in this league and with this economic climate. He not only got his numbers, he got more than the most lucrative previous offer.

Here's the contract structure, as first reported by Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and later verified by capgeek.com:

Kovalchuk, in his prime at 27, will earn $6 million in each of the first two seasons. But then he will earn $11.5 million each of the next FIVE seasons. Then his salary goes to $10.5 million for one year, followed by seasons of $8.5 million, $6.5 million, $3.5 million and $750,000. The last five seasons he's scheduled to be paid $550,000 each. He will be 40 then.

The Devils' offer was reported a while ago, by Larry Brooks of the New York Post, but the Kings didn't know the exact structure and were never sure the offer was legitimate.  They were willing to front-load their proposal but wouldn't go for that huge spike that the Devils incorporated; Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said his team was not even in the ballpark because of that structure.

Why is that structure so bad, when it still averages out to a $6-million annual cap hit? Because Drew Doughty's agent would use that as a jumping-off point in negotiations for the defenseman's next contract--and could make a good argument that Doughty is more valuable to the team and should be paid as much or more. And every other player's salary would be pulled upward--and a lot of players around the NHL have to be looking at this and smiling.

We'll sum this all up later at www.latimes.com/sports

--Helene Elliott

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