One day after we learned the league's rejection of the Kovalchuk deal with New Jersey was upheld by an arbitrator, the NHL has confirmed that four other long-term deals -- deals reached in the last 15 months -- are also under the microscope.
These deals involve veteran players who agreed to front-loaded contracts. According to reports, the four deals in question involve Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger, Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, Boston forward Marc Savard and Chicago forward Marian Hossa.
Only one of them, Hossa, has played under terms of his new deal. According to research done at CapGeek.com, the others kick in this coming season, so it's technically possible for the league to nix them before they take effect.
What would this mean?
Well, as Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe notes while writing about Savard's contract, the fact that a deal hasn't gone into effect yet would mean the players would become unrestricted free agents if their deals are nixed.
ESPN notes that NHL senior vice president of public relations Gary Meagher wouldn't comment on what could happen should the league take this action.
It's not like the NHL is going to revoke Chicago's Stanley Cup or anything, but how bizarre would it be if Hossa -- one of Chicago's most consistent players and a big part of the Cup-winning team -- was ruled to have been playing with an illegal contract?
This could be the closest thing to an ineligible player you would ever see in professional sports.
More newsworthy, you'd have three big-name players who were suddenly free agents. On the open market -- and with the league closely watching any contract that stretches into a player's 40s -- what kind of money could these guys command?
Pronger is aging, and he looked the part many times during the season and playoffs, including a hideous Game 5 performance during the Stanley Cup Final. Savard struggled to return from a concussion, and the threat of injury will always exist because of his lack of size. Luongo, meanwhile, has been guilty of some rough performances in key situations for the Canucks. Of course, the team tends to hurt him a lot with shoddy defensive play and undisciplined hockey.
They got paid because of the length of their deals, but on short notice, they might not be so lucky. Many teams have already done their spending for the offseason, meaning even star-caliber players could be forced to take less money for fewer years than they'd hope.
Of course, this is all speculative. Yes, the NHL now has the leverage to nix any long-term deal it wants, thanks to Richard Bloch's ruling in the Kovalchuk case.
But that doesn't mean they'll jump right out and use it right away.