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 July 28, 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 Cap Friendly, 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. It’s a tweak, and not a defeat.
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.