Posted May 28, 2012

New Jersey Devils may forfeit first-round pick in 2012 NHL Draft

NHL

Ilya Kovalchuk’s goal in Game 6 helped send the Devils into the Stanley Cup Finals, but the team may forfeit a first-round pick after botching his contract situation two years ago. (Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

The New Jersey Devils might forfeit their first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft as part of the NHL’s punishment for the team attempting to get around salary cap rules with Ilya Kovalchuk’s original 2010 contract.

General Manager Lou Lamoriello told The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., on Saturday that the Devils would consider forfeiting this year’s pick, since they will pick either 29th or 30th. The Devils are preparing to take on the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals starting Wednesday.

The NHL punished the Devils in 2010 after they signed Kovalchuk to a 17-year, $102 million deal. The league determined that the Devils were attempting to circumvent the salary cap. The NHL’s cap hit accounts for the average yearly amount of the contract, and the Devils had front-loaded it to an excessive point — Kovalchuk would have been paid $550,000 in each of the last four years of his deal.

The NHL handed down a $3 million fine, stripped the Devils of a third-round pick in 2011 and a first-round pick in one of the next four seasons. Because they will pick either 29th or 30th in this year’s draft, it seems logical that the Devils would elect to forfeit the pick now.

“We’ll see,” Lamoriello told The Star-Ledger.

Kovalchuk has been instrumental in the Devils’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals. He leads the NHL in playoff scoring, and he put up five points in the Devils’ final three games against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals — all Devils wins.