Applying the NBA’s “amnesty” clause to the NHL

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Not sure if you heard, but the NBA lockout is all but officially over. The league and the players tentatively agreed to a season-saving CBA over the weekend.

With the NHL’s labor agreement set to expire on Sep. 15, 2012, it’s worth noting one of the clauses in the new NBA CBA that’s getting some attention. Could the NHL do something similar?

From the New York Times:

The league calls it the “amnesty” clause. General managers call it a get-out-of-jail-free card. It will be available starting Dec. 9, when the N.B.A. reopens for business.

Under the amnesty provision, each team can waive one player and remove him from the salary cap — creating room to sign another player and potentially saving millions in luxury-tax penalties.

The money does not disappear. The player must still be paid. But the provision could give a few teams some relief and put an extra jolt in the free-agent market.

Amnesty players will go through waivers, like any other player. However, teams that make claims will also enter bids. The highest bidder will get the player and pay that amount (with the balance paid by the team that cut him).

So let’s say the NHL had an amnesty clause. Now suppose the Canucks decided Cory Schneider was the goalie of the future in Vancouver. The Canucks could waive Roberto Luongo and his $5.3-million annual cap hit would be off the books forever.

Now enter the Columbus Blue Jackets, who like Luongo but not for what he’s making. The Jackets could bid 60 cents on the dollar and, assuming nobody outbid them, they’d get Luongo, with the Canucks responsible for the salary shortfall (but not cap hit.)

Not saying that would be a good move for the Canucks – just illustrating the possibility. There are plenty of bad contracts out there. Imagine if your team was allowed to ditch its worst one.