The free agent sniper's 15-year, $100 million deal with the Devils was frowned upon by the NHL, which voided the original 17-year, $102 million edition and hit New Jersey with a $3 million fine and the loss of two draft picks. It is a prime example of the kind of long-term, salary-cap-dodging, front-loaded, back-diving contracts (Kovalchuk was to be paid only $550,000 in each of its last five years) that the league has been fighting to prohibit in its next CBA. Clearly, locking up a player for a long time at a steep price can turn him into an albatross (click here) -- virtually untradeable and a constant headache in the cap era. Other notable examples follow.
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Seeking to solve their age-old problem of instability in net, the Flyers signed Bryzgalov, 30, to a nine-year, $51 million contract in June 2011 after trading star forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to clear cap space. The eight-year veteran was coming off an impressive four-season stint with Phoenix, where he was a 2009-10 Vezina Trophy finalist. Initially a popular and zany figure, thanks to HBO's 24/7 series ( CLICK HERE to view a segment), Bryzgalov didn't seem to take well to the pressure in Philly. He played erratically, publicly criticized himself, and was upset to find Sergei Bobrovskystarting in the 2012 Winter Classic. After a shaky performance in the 2012 playoffs, Bryzgalov was ordered by GM Paul Holmgren to get his act together. "His job is to stop pucks and help us win games," Holmgren said. "It's not Comedy Central." CLICK HERE to read Michael Farber's "Bryzgalov is No Laughing Matter"
3 of 11Darren Carroll/SI
After acquiring the five-time scoring champion from the cash-strapped Penguins in July 2001, the Capitals gave Jagr a seven year extension that made him the NHL's highest paid played ($11 million per season). He spent less than three seasons with them, causing unrest as his production declined and attendance fell. The Caps made the playoffs once (a first-round exit). Desperate to unload their albatross, they agreed, after six months of haggling with the only taker -- the deep-pocketed Rangers -- to accept Anson Carter in return and pay $4 million to $4.5 million of Jagr's salary through the 2007-08 season.
4 of 11Lou Capozzola/SI
Imported from Ottawa via trade in June 2001 to be the Islanders' marquee star, the Russian center was given a widely ridiculed 10-year, $87.5 million contract and proceeded to live up to his infuriating reputation. (While with Ottawa, he'd demanded a trade after not getting a new, fat contract and was suspended by the Senators for a year.) By June 2007, the Isles could take no more of his inconsistent production and, in an attempt to free up funds to sign the recently acquired Ryan Smyth, bought out the four remaining years of Yashin's deal for $17.63 -- to be paid out over the next eight years. With no takers in the NHL, Yashin left for Russia's KHL.
5 of 11Lou Capozzola/SI
The Islanders' most recent albatross received a stunning 15-year, $67.5 million deal in September 2006, but has been bedeviled by a seemingly endless string of knee, hip and groin injuries as well as a sports hernia that have limited him to a total of 47 games since 2008. At age 30, his 2011-12 season over prematurely, and with nine years still to run on his contract, the netminder now known as "Rickety DiPietro" vowed to come back and press on. CLICK HERE to view The Painful Saga of Rick DiPietro gallery.
6 of 11Brian Babineau/NHLI/Getty Images
The marquee star of Tampa Bay's 2004 Stanley Cup championship team was given an 11-year, $85 million extension in July 2008. When his production began to decline, he became a burden to a losing franchise in financial turmoil. Rumors swirled during the winter of 2010 that he would be dealt, but his no trade clause and $10 million cap hit through 2016 made moving him very problematic. New owner Jeff Vinik, who took over in March 2010, has since restored stability and Lecavalier remains captain of an improved team, but he is overshadowed by young superstar Steven Stamkos and his contract is an albatross.
7 of 11Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
A reasonably productive center for two Stanley Cup-winners with the Devils, Gomez' status as one of the bigger names of the FA class of 2007 helped him land a 7-year, $51.5 million deal with the New York Rangers. After failing to click with Jaromir Jagr during his first season on Broadway, he was traded to Montreal, where he went a year between goals, finally scoring one on Feb. 7, 2012. When the season ended, buyout talk was swirling as he was set to make $5.5 million for 2012-13 with another $4.5 million due in 2013-14.
8 of 11Lou Capozzola/SI
Even relatively short deals can be deadly. Signing the notorious agitator to a four-year, $15.5 million contract in 2008 ultimately cost Stars co-GM Brett Hull his job. Avery was an unmitigated disaster in Dallas, playing in only 23 games and causing problems in the dressing room. He was suspended six games and forced to go into a two-month counseling program after making unseemly public comments about his former girlfriends. After announcing that they would not take him back, the Stars waived Avery in March 2009 and he was claimed by his former employer, the Rangers, but with half his salary to be paid by the Stars. CLICK HERE to view The Adventures of Sean Avery gallery.
9 of 11David E. Klutho/SI
Cristobal Huet and <br> Brian Campbell
A shopping spree that brought in Marian Hossa (12 years, $62.8 million), Brian Campbell (eight years, $56.8 million) and Cristobal Huet (four years, $22.4) ultimately left the Blackhawks with scant breathing room under the cap and cost them 10 valuable support players after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. Huet became an albatross after he failed to hold the starting job in net. The Blackhawks ended up having to assign him and his cap hit to HC Fribourg-Gotteron in Switzerland before the 2010-11 season. Campbell's campaign was delayed a month by a knee injury, but at age 31 and with a $7 million cap hit, he, too, became problematic. Fortunately, ex-Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon, now with Florida, was willing to trade Rotislav Olesz for him in June 2011.
10 of 11David E. Klutho/SI
A dispute with new coach Cory Clouston over ice time and his role led Heatley to demand a trade -- only one season after signing a six-year, $45 million contract with the Senators. "We signed [Heatley] to a long-term deal and we expect him to honor it," said GM Bryan Murray, who found himself wrestling with a player who had a no movement clause and no desire to play in Ottawa. When Heatley nixed a trade to Edmonton in July 2009, the Senators were left on the hook for a $4 million bonus. The soap opera dragged on until mid-September, when the disgruntled sniper was finally traded to San Jose for Jonathan Cheechoo, Milan Michalek and a 2010 second-round pick.
11 of 11Lou Capozzola/SI
Signed by New York for six-years at $39 million, the 11-year veteran defenseman -- an All-Star with Ottawa -- became a target of boo birds on Broadway, especially when he produced career lows in goals (2), assists (12) and points (14) in 2009-10. At 33, with declining skills and four years and $23 million left on his contract, Redden was waived before the 2010-11 season and assigned to AHL Hartford where his $6.5 million cap hit and career were buried.
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