NHL modifies Kovalchuk penalty against Devils

Kovalchuk signed a 17-year, $102 million dollar contract with the Devils in the summer of 2010.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

NEWARK, N.J. — The NHL has reduced its penalty against the New Jersey Devils for their signing of Ilya Kovalchuk in 2010.

The league on Thursday announced that the Devils would be allowed to keep a first-round draft pick it was scheduled to forfeit this year. It also reduced the $3 million fine assessed against the team for circumventing the NHL-NHLPA collective bargaining agreement.

The Devils recently applied to the league for reconsideration and relief from a portion of the original penalty, citing primarily changes in circumstances which, in the club’s view, changed the appropriateness of the sanctions.

The NHL did not spell out what changed, but Kovalchuk retired after last season and returned to Russia to play there.