2012 NHL Lockout: What the Latest League Proposal Means to the New Jersey Devils

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2012 NHL Lockout: What the Latest League Proposal Means to the New Jersey Devils
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

When the NHL and NHLPA throw numbers at each other for days and no agreement is reached, it could become confusing to understand who is coming out of negotiations with a better deal.

The latest offer made by the league owners seemed to be a step in the right direction, as the players would receive 51.6 percent of hockey-related revenue in 2012-2013, and would see at least 49-50 percent of the revenue over the next six years.

However, although revenue sharing has become one of the top priorities in these negotiations, it is the salary cap that has players questioning the league's motives. According to Sports Illustrated, the new CBA proposal would shrink the league's salary cap from $70.2 million to a minuscule $58 million, all with no salary rollback in sight.

In other words, players are going to have to take some sort of pay cut in order for organizations to squeeze under the cap. According to Cap Geek, 16 teams would find themselves over the newly proposed salary cap, and 12 of those teams would surpass it by at least $4 million.

The New Jersey Devils are not one of those 16 teams, but they would become dangerously close to the salary cap if the CBA proposal was passed. New Jersey currently has $14 million in space with 22 players on the roster, but the new cap would only leave the club with $1.9 million to spare.

A difference of nearly $12 million almost completely eliminates the chance of bringing in another big-name forward to replace Zach Parise. There has been speculation since July that the Ducks' Bobby Ryan could be on the team's radar, but there is no way New Jersey could acquire and re-sign him without disassembling the team.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The new salary cap will make it harder for the Devils to acquire a top 6 forward like Bobby Ryan

On the bright side, New Jersey does have a team put together and still has room to spare. Petr Sykora is the only remaining unrestricted free agent that hasn't signed elsewhere, and he only made $650,000 last season. Even if the Devils were to give him a raise to $1.5 million (which he made in 2009-2010), the team would still be under the cap.

The Devils will also shed a combined $13.4 million in salaries after next season when aging veterans like Patrik Elias, Dainius Zubrus and Marek Zidlicky become unrestricted free agents. New Jersey would likely have to use a majority of that money to re-sign Adam Henrique (RFA), David Clarkson and Travis Zajac, but the cap will also increase by $2 million to $60 million in 2013-2014.

So, in other words, while the new cap would definitely make things more difficult, the New Jersey Devils aren't exactly in over their heads. Teams like the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild, who are currently $10 million over the projected salary cap, will be stuck with a huge problem going into next season if the CBA passes.

The Devils have always built small-budget teams and turned them into contenders, so it won't necessarily hurt them to have less cap space. Ilya Kovalchuk's contract of $100 million was rare for the Devils to go after, so as long as they can keep a full roster under $58 million, the organization should be fine.

We must also remember that the current proposed CBA isn't going to stick. Both sides are going to keep negotiating until they reach a better number, but right now, it seems like the focus is revenue sharing and not cap space.

While every team will be affected by revenue sharing for the next six years, they must also deal with the consequences in losing nearly $15 million in spending money for their players. The Devils should be fine with what is currently being negotiated, but it is certainly something to keep an eye on.

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