It appears that a resolution to the Ilya Kovalchuk saga might be closer than many anticipated.
Yahoo!'s Dmitri Chesnokov is reporting that Kovalchuk's Russian agent, Yuri Nikolaev has set a 48-hour deadline with the NHL to resolve his client's contract issues or Kovalchuk will likely play elsewhere this season with the KHL being the most likely option. More calls between all parties are scheduled for the remainder of Thursday.
The Devils and Kovalchuk presented the framework for a new deal on Monday after the original 17-year, $102 million contract was rejected by the league, however once again the NHL did not allow the deal due to the length of the contract, leading to increased frustration in the Kovalchuk camp and thus the implementation of a deadline in the hopes of a quick resolution. Nikolaev stated that they had been in contact with SKA St. Petersburgh of the KHL but would not specify about the nature of those discussions.
Earlier this summer, Kovalchuk was reportedly offered a three-year, $42 million deal to sign with St. Petersburg, a team owned by league president Alexander Medvedev.
On Monday, Medvedev stated at the World Hockey Summit in Toronto that his offer to Kovalchuk was still on the table. Kovalchuk's agent said that his client would make a decision on the KHL by Friday. The KHL season opens September 8th.
The Devils are set to open their training camp on September 17th under new head coach John MacLean and would undoubtedly like to have their star sniper under contract by that time. The 27-year old Kovalchuk had 41 goals and 44 assists in 76 games last season split between the Devils and Atlanta Thrashers.