NHL CBA Proposal: Will a $59.9M Salary Cap Be Possible Without Salary Rollbacks?

Mark Jones@@CanesReportSenior Analyst IOctober 17, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Zach Parise of the Minnesota Wild speaks with the media following the NHLPA press conference at Marriott Marquis Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

At first glance, the NHL's latest CBA proposal looks to be a bundle of compromises straight from the Founding Fathers.

A 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue?

A reduced but reasonable $59.9 million salary cap, beginning in 2013?

No demands for rollbacks for player salaries?

It's the proposal perfect for the visually disabled—seemingly heaven-sent, as long as you can't read the fine print.

Although teams will be allowed to spend up to $70.2 million in 2012-13, a salary cap below $60 million is certainly a surprising decision. Calculated by the annual rate of inflation, that $10.3 million drop equates to the 2005 value of the current salary cap.

Furthermore, NHL contracts buried the AHL—such as Hartford Whale player Wade Redden, whose $6.3 million cap hit has been eradicated from the Rangers' cap hit for years now—will now count against the cap. The implementation of such a rule will, obviously, raise cap hits for most franchises around the league.

However, in a less-than-subtle attempt to appear negotiable with players, Bettman & Co. promise absolutely no salary rollbacks for players on one-way, NHL contracts. Per the official release of the owners' proposal:

The NHL is not proposing that current SPCs be reduced, re-written or rolled back.

Instead, the NHL's proposal retains all current Players' SPCs at their current face value for the duration of their terms, subject to the operation of the escrow mechanism in the same manner as it worked under the expired CBA.

How, though, does the NHL plan to reduce the salary cap by over $10 million dollars without reducing players' cap hits or allowing cap hits to be buried in the minor leagues?

That's not included in the transcript.

Simply put, a TI-84 calculator is not required to discover the error message in this proposal.

For the sake of example, suppose that all 30 teams spent to exactly $59.9 million in the 2013-14 season—hence, the entire league-wide cap hit totals out to $1.797 billion.

For all contracts already extending through that point, the league payroll stands at $1.3872 billion for 2013-14.

Those equations leaves $409.8 million available league-wide in 2013-14, but a whopping 625 free agents (including both AHL- and NHL-ers) will be vying for those valuable dollars. $409.8 million leaves room for only 167 players to sign new NHL contracts—or about five or six per team—based off the average NHL salary of $2.45 million.

Not many teams will have only five or six spots to fill when entering the 2013 offseason.

In other words, the NHL's proposed financial changes, rollbacks or no rollbacks, are going to reduce player salaries significantly.

Whether it be on their current contracts or on their future contracts, all players—both those who deserve raises, and those who don't—will see their paychecks dialed back as a result of the owners' proposal.

To quote Hardee's, "That's just the way it is."

This lockout is far from over. Forget all hopes for calm, constructive negotiations between the owners and players—first, they'll need to make the mere numbers line up.


Mark Jones has been a Bleacher Report featured columnist since 2009. He has written more than 425 articles and received more than 720,000 reads. 

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