The NHL reportedly is investigating the recently signed contracts of Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger and Chicago forward Marian Hossa to determine whether they circumvent the league's salary cap.

The Ottawa Sun first reported Thursday that the league is examining Hossa's 12-year, $62.8 million contract with the Blackhawks. ESPN reported yesterday that the league also is looking into Pronger's seven-year, $34.45 million contract. Pronger was acquired in a draft-day trade with the Anaheim Ducks before signing the new deal.

ESPN reported that the league confirmed yesterday that it is looking into the deal, but would have no further comment until the investigation is completed. An NHL spokesman could not be reached for comment last night.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren was not immediately available to comment.After the investigation, ESPN reported, the NHL will decide whether to pursue charges against the teams for circumventing the collective-bargaining agreement. The teams could face fines, the loss of draft picks, or both.

The NHL apparently is concerned that the front-loaded contracts for these older players violate the spirit of the salary cap. The theory is that an extended deal lessens the average salary cap hit, though teams know that players might retire rather than play for the lower salaries in the later years.