Restricted free agent Ilya Kovalchuk and the Atlanta Thrashers are closing in on a new contract, as the two sides have an agreement in principle on a five-year deal worth between $32 million and $33 million, a source told The Canadian Press.
Thrashers' general manager Don Waddell visited Kovalchuk and his agent Jay Grossman in New York on Friday and closed the gap considerably on what was a $1.4 million a year spread for a new five-year contract. The Thrashers were offering $5.6 million a year and Kovalchuk was seeking $7 million.
"There are still some hurdles," Grossman said early Friday night, "but we're going in the right direction. We'll know more [on Saturday]. But the deal is not yet done."
Sources say the extra time was required to deal with salary cap ramifications and make sure the deal, as structured, would meet with NHL approval. In addition to spending time with Grossman and Kovalchuk, Waddell also visited NHL headquarters as part of the effort to make sure a new Kovalchuk deal would fly with the league.