Are the NHL's Long-Term Deals Fair or Just Sneaky?

Ryan PickardCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2009

CHICAGO - DECEMBER 04: Marian Hossa #81 of the Chicago Blackhawks awaits the start of play against the Nashville Predators at the United Center on December 4, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Predators defeated the Blackhawks 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The National Hockey League has the lowest salary cap in all of the four major sports. Right now the cap is $56.8 million.

The heads of the NHL say this is good since it creates parity in the league by not allowing any team to have all the great players while other teams struggle to bring in anybody.

Basically, there are no teams like the New York Yankees in hockey.

Well, teams have finally found a way to maneuver around the cap and still bring in great talent: They are giving their stars long-term deals.

These deals last about 10 to 13 years, and as the years add on, the salary goes down, so by the time the player is on his last couple of years he's making only about $500,000, and his cap hit is little too nothing.

The league decided to look into these deals after the Chicago Blackhawks signed Marian Hossa to a 12-year deal worth $62.8 million.

Hossa will be 42 by the time the deal is finally over, and it's safe to say Hossa will not be playing when he is 42. The cap hit to the Blackhawks is just $5.275 million a year, which in reality is a steal considering Hossa would normally command a hit of at least $7 million a year.

The latest deal that the league is set to investigate is for the team I support. The Boston Bruins recently signed Marc Savard to a seven-year deal through the 2016-17 season. Savard will be 39 by the time the deal expires and is another player that most likely won't play the entire contract.

The cap hit is only $4.2 million, which is a steal considering Savard is one of the premier passers in the game today. Since joining Boston he has been right near the top of the league in assists each year.

So what does this all mean to the NHL? As stated above, the goal of the cap was to create parity in the league, and for the most part it has done its job. Now teams are working these long-term deals, which could pretty much make the cap irrelevant.

With the league looking into these deals, expect to see fewer teams making them, but if the league does nothing about them, then most other teams will follow suit and sign their star guys to long-term contracts.

Will these long-term deals doom the NHL and the salary cap? In my opinion they won't, but there should be some sort of rule set up so the contracts cannot extend past a certain age.

That may seem like a terrible rule, but if teams continue making these long-term deals, then the parity could quickly be lost, and the NHL will become more and more like baseball, where just four or five teams have a shot at winning every year.


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