Tag: salary cap floor

Nashville Predators v Phoenix Coyotes

Gary Bettman hints at higher salary cap next season


After telling NHL general managers to take a “business as usual” approach despite CBA uncertainty, commissioner Gary Bettman dropped some interesting tidbits to reporters including The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle.

Despite the rather elementary – almost flippant – delivery of his response, Bettman’s take on next season’s salary cap certainly seems interesting:

On the salary cap going up over the summer before a new CBA comes in: “Revenues continue to grow so you know how the system works. Revenues grow, the cap grows.”

That probably seems painfully simple, but one of the worries heading into the new CBA negotiations was that owners may try to dial back the salary cap. That might still be the case, but it’s promising to hear Bettman say that the cap is likely to rise.

Heightened floor?

What he didn’t discuss was the salary cap floor. One interesting (and one would assume, at least slightly less contentious) possible debate for the CBA talks revolves around the possibility of “relaxing” the minimum amount a team must spend to be cap complaint. The higher ceiling is fantastic for the Chicago/Pittsburgh/Detroit’s of the NHL, but smaller market teams often struggle to spend enough to stay in the game.

If you take Bettman’s quote as a totally accurate prediction, one would guess that the floor would follow the ceiling’s lead – and make lower-budget teams continue to strain with it.


As with all of this talk, we’ll ultimately just need to wait and see. Yet with big-ticket players like Shea Weber set to hit the unrestricted free agent market, things could be a lot more fun if teams are allowed to spend big.

(Well, they might not end up that fun for the Nashville Predators, but still.)

Sean Avery reports to AHL, goons dominate waivers

FILE: Sean Avery Arrested For Battery Of A Police Officer

Even when Sean Avery isn’t around, the guy manages to be a pest to someone. By accepting his demotion to the AHL’s Connecticut Whale*, the New York Rangers and Dallas Stars’ $1.9 million cap responsibilities dissolve.

That’s great news for the wild-spending Rangers, but the Stars face a serious worry of going below the salary cap floor once Adam Pardy is taken off the injured reserve. The Stars might have to spend more than $1 million merely to plug a salary hole while still paying half of Avery’s salary. Avery’s contract really is the “gift” that keeps giving for the Stars.


Here’s a quick rundown of the other waiver wire moves from Wednesday, via TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

  • Three players cleared waivers. Boston Bruins Andrew Bodnarchuk and Josh Hennessey cleared waivers along with Jeff Deslauriers of the Anaheim Ducks.

So that’s it for today’s waiver wire moves.

* – Interestingly enough, Avery and Wade Redden will make more money because they won’t pay escrow in the minors. That must make it at least a bit less soul-crushing to be in that situation, right?

What the NHL and NHLPA might discuss next summer once current CBA expires

Gary Bettman

This has not been an easy summer for the NHL by any means. Perhaps the post-Game 7 Vancouver riots acted as an ominous introduction for months in which most of the biggest stories were negative. From more manageable headaches like Drew Doughty’s contract holdout situation to stomach-churning issues such as Sidney Crosby’s battle with post-concussion syndrome and the troubling series of enforcer deaths, the notion that next season cannot come soon enough takes on added meaning in 2011.

Yet as bad as things have been lately, next summer could be foreboding in its own right for a reason few of us even want to consider: the possibility of another lockout. The league seems like it’s in much, much better shape heading into the summer of 2012 than it did going into the summer of 2004, but the fear is there since the Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire.

The good news is that the NHL isn’t likely to shoot for enormous changes like instituting a salary cap or attempting to radically improve the style of play (among other alterations that the damaging 2004-05 lockout gave way to). That doesn’t mean that the league and its players association won’t be locked in some tough battles, though.

Tony Gallagher took a look at some of the hot button issues that will likely be discussed next summer as the parties try to hash out another CBA. It’s a piece worth reading from top to bottom, but PHT will take a look at some of the most interesting bits.

Let’s start things off on two issues that might have an impact on the league’s poorest teams.

In speaking to a number of informed people around the league on both sides of the fence, it’s clear that one of the league’s biggest problems within the present agreement is the obligation to enforce a floor on the genuinely pathetic franchises around the league.

The teams that have been losing money and crying wolf for the past 10 years are now being forced to pay out in the neighbourhood of US$45 million, which is forcing them into a position of losing money in some cases, and the league will be looking toward either lowering the floor or eliminating it altogether. That is something the players will likely vigorously defend.


The Torontos, Montreals and Vancouvers keep handing over money to the same dud franchises year after year with the question being whether that will continue to be the case, and if so, will that pool of money increase or decrease? And how will it be comprised going forward.

A particularly wrangling issue is all playoff teams having to contribute one-third of all revenue sharing from their first-round take, a system that actually rewards franchises (most notably Toronto) for missing the playoffs.

That’s the interesting thing about the current CBA; there are provisions that both hurt and help the league’s less successful teams. (Then again, the high cap floor/playoff revenue sharing combo might have the worst impact on not-so-deep-pocketed clubs like the Nashville Predators, who use their guile more often than big pay checks to make the playoffs.) To make things fair, the league probably wouldn’t want to eliminate the salary cap floor without keeping a minimum payroll for teams who want to benefit from shared revenue.

Naturally, the big money questions will be the biggest sticking points. The other major money matter is guaranteed contracts (and owners’ urges to do away with them). Considering the dangers involved in the sport, it would be a hard sell to roll back guarantees. After all, who’s going to want to risk breaking a bone by blocking a shot if they could lose their job shortly afterward?

Gallagher’s most interesting point comes late in the article, where he claims that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA head Donald Fehr have already won some big labor battles in their day, so they might be more willing to avoid a big standoff. It would be great if that ends up being true, but we’ll need to wait and see if that bit of sunshine turns out to be the light at the end of a (hopefully short) negotiating tunnel or just an example of an incorrect but educated guess.

Click here to read more about the probable talking points during the 2012 CBA meetings.

Avs take chance on Shane O’Brien with one-year deal

Nashville Predators v Vancouver Canucks - Game Five

Life just got a little more interesting in Denver this winter. The Colorado Avalanche announced today that they have signed former Predators defenseman Shane O’Brien to a one-year deal. Renaud P Lavoie of RDS reports that it’s a one-year contract worth $1.1 million.

The Avalanche will be O’Brien’s fifth team in the last six seasons after stops in Anaheim, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, and Nashville. He had career highs of 4 goals and 17 assists in his first full season with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2007-08. Since then, he’s acquired the reputation for bad penalties on the ice and great quotes off of it.

Avalanche General Manager/Executive Vice President Greg Sherman added his thoughts in the wake of the signing:

“We are pleased to have Shane under contract. He adds depth and brings an element to our defense.”

He also adds some much needed salary to a team that is flirting with the salary cap floor. According to the incomparable CapGeek.com, the Avalanche have 23 players signed for next season’s roster and have spent approximately $45.5 million on next season’s payroll. For those keeping track at home, the cap floor has been set at $48.3 million for the 2011-12 season. There are other factors at play that should help the team make it to the league minimum though—they have $2.7 million in bonus money that may be collected and Gabriel Landeskog’s entry-level deal would add around $3 million to the mix if he were to make the team. They’ll be close—and O’Brien’s $1.1 million certainly helps the cause.

For O’Brien to be successful in Colorado, he’ll have to cut down on the number of penalties he takes over the course of the season. Between the 2006-07 and 2008-09, he averaged 175 penalty minutes per game. Last season, he lead the Predators with 83 penalty minutes, 29 minor penalties, and 5 fighting majors despite only playing about 17 minutes per game. It wasn’t just the number of penalties he took—he has been known over the last few seasons to take bad penalties at the worst possible time. There’s a reason that five Predators defensemen played more minutes per game than O’Brien.

Looking over the Avalanche’s roster, O’Brien will have to fight to earn his ice time this season. Free agent acquisition Jan Hejda, Erik Johnson, and Ryan O’Byrne will get 20+ minutes per game. Kyle Cumiskey and Kyle Quincey will try to have bounce-back seasons, leaving Matt Hunwick, Ryan Wilson, and Shane O’Brien to battle for the last spot on the blueline. GM Sherman says he’s happy with “the element” that O’Brien can bring to the team—we’ll see if Colorado likes that element enough to give him sustained ice-time this season.

Desperate Panthers over-spend on Ed Jovanovski and Scottie Upshall’s four-year deals

Tukka Rask, Scottie Upshall
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Look, I understand that Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon needs to get his team to the salary cap floor of $48 million. With a team that has such a limited group of talent and is suffering from such a long playoff drought, it makes sense that the former Chicago Blackhawks general manager will need to overpay people to bring them to Sunrise, Florida.

That being said, couldn’t he have signed these bad contracts for one year rather than giving people stupid money for longer periods of time? Tomas Kopecky probably received $1 million too much per year to come to Florida with a four-year, $12 million deal, the team took on Brian Campbell’s ridiculous contract and now they gave Scottie Upshall a top-line forward deal of four years, $14 million.

Update: things have gotten even worse, apparently. Tallon brought Ed Jovanovski back to Florida with a ridiculous four-year, $16.5 million deal. There’s a neat nostalgic element to this signing because the Panthers made Jovanovski the first overall pick of the 1994 draft and he went on to help them make their one magical run to the 1996 Stanley Cup finals. That was a long time ago, though; Jovanovski has been an extremely injury-prone defenseman since he left Florida. He only played 50 games in 2010-11 and 66 in 09-10. While he showed some signs of health with Phoenix before that (82 games in 08-09 and 80 in 07-08) but six of his last eight seasons have been wrecked by injuries.

Upshall’s $3.5 million salary cap hit, Jose Theodore’s $1.5 million and Jovanovski’s $4.13 million will lift the Panthers’ number to about $47.4 million, leaving them less than one million short of that $48 million floor. All it cost them was a coherent roster and long-term plan to get there.

In case you wanted some re-emphasis, Upshall’s deal is not a very good deal at all, either. Both the term and the annual salary are out of whack for what can be reasonably expected of Upshall. He’s scored 22 goals once in his career (in 2010-11); other than that he’s been a guy whose speed hasn’t really produced much as far as results. (At least for $3.5 million per year.)

Again, we understand that the Panthers are in a bind, but these deals might put the team in a bad position once their prospects start to mature. In other words, this team could be in a similar (if less promising) situation as Tallon’s last team – the Chicago Blackhawks. That team saw simultaneous breakthroughs of prospects soon after he saddled the club with ugly contracts like those of Campbell and jettisoned goalie Cristobal Huet.

Upshall, Jovanovski and the rest of the Panthers might prove us wrong in the long run, but from the looks of things, they’re not spending their money very wisely.