TORONTO -- The fate of Ilya Kovalchuk's disputed contract with the New Jersey Devils could be decided by the end of next week.
A source tells The Canadian Press that the NHL and the NHL Players' Association have agreed to an independent arbitrator and that the hearing is expected to start as soon as next week.
The league rejected the 17-year deal that Kovalchuk signed earlier this month with New Jersey that would pay the 27-year-old Russian US$102 million.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly called the longest deal in league history a "circumvention of the (Collective Bargaining Agreement)" in rejecting the landmark contract last week.
The NHL Players' Association filed a grievance on Monday that disputes the league's rejection.