New Jersey Devils Fined $3 Million by NHL for Initial Kovalchuk Contract

The New Jersey Devils were fined $3 million and lost a first-round draft pick for trying to get around the National Hockey League’s salary cap with their initial contract offer to Ilya Kovalchuk.

The NHL said in a statement that the Devils will be able to decide when, in the next four years, they’ll forfeit a first- round pick. New Jersey also will lose a third-round pick in the 2011 entry draft.

The penalty stems from a 17-year, $102 million contract the Devils offered Kovalchuk, a three-time All-Star who scored 40 or more goals in six consecutive seasons. The NHL rejected the deal, saying it was in violation of the league’s limit on team payrolls. Arbitrator Richard Bloch last month upheld the NHL’s right to void the contract.

The NHL accepted a 15-year, $100 million contract between the Devils and the 27-year-old left wing on Sept. 3.

The NHL said it considers the matter closed with today’s penalty and won’t have further comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

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