That may be all good and well during the expiration of the CBA and the new CBA negotiations were underway, however. It is illegal to subjectively (see Hossa and Luongo et al contracts) to "all of a sudden" reject a contract that has one, been similar to several other long term contracts in recent years, and two, selectively deny a contract that has in no way shape or form violated the current CBA. When said CBA isn't open to selective interpretation in mid term, that in itself is a violation of the CBA by the NHL. (which is illegal)
The NHL has no legal standing to selectively single out the Kovalchuk contract when it has already permitted several other similar contracts, BY LAW (CBA)
So where do you think the NHL should have drawn the line? Since you think this contract should have been allowed would you have been okay with the Rangers and Maple Leafs going out and signing next years UFA superstars to 30 year contracts with $3 million cap hits?
I didn't like the Hossa and Luongo contracts either and I would agree that the NHL should have probably challenged them earlier but if you can't see that Kovy's contract took cap circumvention to another level you need to take of the red and black glasses. Again, should the NHL have just stood by idle and let it happen until the next CBA negotiation?
That being said, I still think the Devils played this perfectly. Most of the competition from other NHL teams have alreay moved on and Kovy has made several statements which would make it hard not to agree to a slighly modified contract (similar to the approved Luongo and Hossa contracts) that would still be gentle on the Devils cap hit. I think in the end we still get our superstar at a discounted cap hit.