How can Bettman "exert" some pressure on this? Look what happened to Kovalchuk and the Devils...his contract went from 17 years $102M to 15 years $100M and it was approved. Then the "Kovalchuk clasue" was born. Maybe I'm missing something on this...I don't know. If I am please let me know.
I'm not sure the league has cause to invalidate the contract, though. It's heavily frontloaded, of course, but given the precedent of previous heavily front loaded contracts (including massive signing bonuses of Parise & Suter), I don't think the league has a leg to stand on in that regard.
I'm not saying that he will or even that I think he will, merely that I just think there is the possibility he might. You know he doesn't want Nashville to be decimated and relegated to a non-playoff team, they were one of his biggest southern expansion success stories. You bought up the Kovy contract, which was initially rejected by the NHL because they thought it artificially lowering the annual average value of the contract by front loading the contract excessively and extending it beyond the age they thought Kovy would continue to play. There may be some dispute as to whether or not Webber will continue to play out his contract but it is more egregiously front loaded than others (including in my opinion Parise and Suter) because the salary/bonus structure for each of the first FOUR years is over $14M and will end up in excess of $56M in the first four years - more than half of his total pay in the first 28.5% of his contract tenure. We have a saying in tax law, "pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered" - given the fact that Bettman is predisposed (I think) to hate the deal and that it is just a little more egregious I can see him pushing (even if it is solely behind the scenes) to invalidate it.