As I noted in a different thread, the summer will be an odd one to watch unfold - everyone knows that the CBA could undo all of the salary cap limits in September. No one knows how contentious or smooth the NHL-NHLPA negotiations go - the cap could climb up to that $72M limit and just be endorsed with the new CBA, or it could be radically decreased. I'm curious to see which teams / GMs ignore the CBA risk and spend to the new limit and which ones stay conservative in expectations of the cap going down.
My gut feeling is that nearly all of the teams will be cautious about overcommitting to added payroll for fear of the new CBA burning them, and that the prime UFAs like Parise, Suter and Semin will stay unsigned past July 1st.
I definitely don't see the Sabres trying to bump their current payroll much if Regier remains in place - he's typically one to sit back and watch what happens around the league before making decisions. I could see the Sabres being quiet in the summer with only dollar-for-dollar type trades or swapping free agent exits for extensions of their own players; if the new CBA is in place in September and the cap is higher, they would then use training camp as the time to add payroll if necessary.
If the cap goes up that much, trade Leopold, sign Ryan Suter (Suter-Myers **salivates**)...and then get some help up front.
But you have to expect that the cap will be less than that when the new CBA kicks in. It's an interesting situation: the cap might rise to 68-72M on July 1, but the CBA expires September 15. So there could be two seperate caps: this one for the summer months, and then whatever comes from the new CBA after that. It's possible the cap comes back down a little--and there may or may not be an accompanying salary rollback. So spending to that cap might turn out to be a very risky move.
I think the owners are going to have a very tough time getting the roll back they want (57% to 50%). I also doubt they will have the same unity they had going into the last negotiations nor the fan suport they enjoyed then as well. The real issue is revenue sharing not being adequate enough to preserve the smaller markets viability. That is something the owners need to work out among themselves but likely wont. They will try and get rollbacks from the players instead.
Revenue sharing isn't something they can "solve" merely amongst themselves. It's something that is a part of the CBA and has to be collectively bargained.
So, while the owners need to get on the same page across the board on the big issues that they want to tackle in collective bargaining, they alone cannot agree to more revenue sharing.
The players will have to agree to any changes in the system.
And honestly, I'm surprised that the NHLPA hasn't pushed for more revenue sharing. That should help keep the lower revenue teams afloat which ensures more jobs for the foreseeable future.
Do you really think the teams who spend to the cap (and over using the minors) are going to NOT protect themselves with either opt-outs or a buy-out option in the next CBA? Really?
Teams will spend money. I fully expect the usual suspects to be shopping like usual this summer -- Flyers, Rangers, and perhaps even the Sabres. And they're BoG reps are going to go hard for an amnisty or buy-out or some sort of reduction that other teams will fall in line behind because of the revenue sharing pie. Big spending teams need only threaten to shorten up their payments into that to get smaller spending teams in line with that sort of "compromise".
If none of these guys are signed, the next words out of Fehr's mouth ought to be "collusion" and "lawsuit". The premium guys will get their day in the Stupid Money sun.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. - Aristotle
For the twenty NHL teams with payrolls for next season currently below the current cap minimum of $48.3 million, it shouldn’t be a significant issue, especially for those – Ottawa, NY Islanders, Winnipeg, Phoenix, St. Louis, Nashville and Colorado - with payrolls under $40 million.
It could get dicey, however, for the ten teams – Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Toronto, Chicago, Boston, San Jose, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Calgary - with payrolls currently in excess of $50 million.
If they gamble on, say, $64 million, and the cap ceiling comes in at $61 million, they’ll have to slash payroll to become cap compliant, which could prove easier said than done. The more players they have to re-sign, the more difficult it becomes.
The GMs of those ten teams can operate under a self-imposed number of $60 million until the real figure for next season is finally established, but the higher their current payroll over $50 million, the greater the likelihood of missing out on bidding competitively for the best available unrestricted free agents.
More troubling is the possibility of having to wait to re-sign their key restricted free agents until the new CBA is implemented, and the new salary cap numbers revealed, leaving those players open to being poached away by offer sheets from other teams.
In recent years, the offer sheet hasn’t been a serious threat. Indeed, last summer, superstars like Tampa Bay Lightning winger Steven Stamkos and LA Kings defenseman Drew Doughty never received a single offer.
It’s quite likely this summer could pass without anyone receiving an offer sheet, but with some of those high-salaried teams forced to operate under a self-imposed lower cap, it could provide temptation for a GM without that concern to make a pitch.
The possibility also exists we could see some of those high-salaried teams opt to make salary-dumping moves in anticipation they won’t get the significant cap raise needed to re-sign key players.
With the way Ennis has picked up his play and the mulligan his injury gave him on stats for the year, one has to think Regier will be careful not to leave him eligible to an offer sheet this summer. Thankfully, only he and Kaleta are the key guys to worry about re-signing this summer.