NHL rejects Seattle Kraken’s deal with goaltender Philipp Grubauer, noting violation of front-loaded contract rules, source says

The NHL has rejected the free-agent contract the Seattle Kraken signed with goaltender Philipp Grubauer, a source confirmed on Sunday.

Grubauer, an unrestricted free agent from the Colorado Avalanche, signed a six-year, $35.4 million deal with the expansion team on Wednesday, with an average annual value of $5.9 million against the salary cap.

The contract was rejected by the NHL’s Central Registry because it violated the league’s requirements for a front-loaded contract. According to CapFriendly, which first reported the rejection, the $1.5 million variance in salary from 2022-23 ($6 million) to 2023-24 ($7.5 million) exceeds 25% of the first-year salary on the contract ($5 million).

The NHL tightened up those salary rules in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which was established in summer 2020. Front-loaded contracts in any “immediately adjacent years” can’t exceed 25% variance with the first year of that contract, and any year of the contract can’t exceed 60% variance from the highest year of the deal.

The contract will have to restructured and resubmitted to the NHL for approval. The Seattle Times reported Sunday that the Kraken have already done so already, taking $250,000 from the third year and adding it to the second year, pending the league’s review.

Grubauer, 29, was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy this season and considered one of the top goaltenders on the free-agent market after being unable to come to terms on an extension with the Avalanche.

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