TORONTO -- More than a month and a half after being introduced as a lifetime member of the New Jersey Devils, Ilya Kovalchuk appears set to finally join the team.
The NHL and NHL Players' Association have reached a verbal agreement that will allow the Russian winger's US$100-million, 15-year contract to be approved, a source confirmed Friday.
The league and players' union still need to sign off on the deal before the 5 p.m. ET deadline. The exact terms of the agreement weren't immediately available.
But the source did confirm that it would allow Kovalchuk to join the Devils.
It brings an end to a long summer for the 27-year-old, who was the highest-profile player to hit the free-agent market on July 1. He originally agreed to a $102-million, 17-year deal with the Devils on July 19 and was introduced at a news conference the following day -- just hours before the league rejected the contract because it was believed to circumvent the salary cap.
An independent arbitrator upheld that ruling.
The Devils and Kovalchuk's agent Jay Grossman immediately started working on a revised deal. They met with the NHL during the process.
The league has long been unhappy with front-loaded, long-term contracts that extend past the point a player will likely be continuing his career. In addition to the Kovalchuk situation, the NHL continued to investigate deals given to Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa and Boston Bruins centre Marc Savard -- although those will likely be approved as part of Friday's agreement.
In fact, Kovalchuk could end up being the last NHL player to sign a long-term deal that will take him into his 40's. He'll turn 42 before the contract expires in 2025.
When Kovalchuk met the media after signing his first contract in July, he posed for photos outside the Prudential Center and talked about the security that comes with a huge deal: "I wanted to sign long-term so I will be set for the rest of my life. I'm 27, I'm still young, but you never know what can happen."
Kovalchuk is one of the league's premier scorers, having topped the 40-goal mark in six consecutive seasons. He finished last season in New Jersey after turning down a $101-million, 12-year extension from the Atlanta Thrashers in February and subsequently being traded.
The Thrashers originally selected him with the first overall draft pick in 2001. He has 338 goals and 642 points in 621 career NHL games -- including 41 goals and 44 assists last season.
The Dallas Stars have announced that right wing Jonathan Cheechoo will attend the team's training camp on a tryout basis.
"We're pleased that Jonathan has accepted our invitation to come to our training camp," Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said in a team release. "He has shown the ability to be an effective scorer in this league. He's a competitor and we're going to give him an opportunity."
Cheechoo, 29, played 61 games with Ottawa last season, registering 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists).
Cheechoo, a right shot, was originally drafted by San Jose (2nd round/29th overall) in 1998. He’s picked up 305 points (170 goals, 135 assists) in 501 career NHL games.
His best season came in 2005-06 when he won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top goal scorer, tallying 56 for the Sharks.