To understand escrow issue, consider Duncan Keith


“The guys whose contracts are up definitely want the cap to go up; the guys whose contracts aren’t up don’t want the escrow. … I can’t think of another situation in a union where membership would be split so hard core.”

That was an unnamed NHL source, speaking with ESPN’s Craig Custance, in an attempt to frame the upcoming debate among players about the 5 percent escalator, which the NHLPA will either approve or try to lower in discussions with the league.

If the escalator does end up coming down, so too will the projected cap (currently estimated to be $71.5 million), and that could force a number of big-spending teams into making some tough roster decisions.

This is a boring topic, we know. So to put a name to it, put yourselves in the shoes of Duncan Keith. A few years ago, the Blackhawks’ franchise defenseman signed a 13-year, $72 million extension that runs through 2022-23. He’s already lost money to escrow. He stands to lose even more in the future, especially if the 5 percent escalator is invoked.

At the same time, though, Keith enjoys winning. And the Blackhawks, with their deep pockets, stand a better chance of winning with a higher salary cap. (Unlike, say, the Arizona Coyotes, who would prefer the cap goes down.)

So, what would you do if you were Keith? You’d love to get “full face-value” for your contract, obviously. But you’d also, presumably, like the ‘Hawks to be able to sign your pal Brent Seabrook to an extension, right?

The NHL, back in January, said it didn’t believe the escalator would be “an issue.”

But multiple sources tell Custance that it’s “a decision that is far from decided.”

Related: Why NHL fans should care about the plunging Canadian dollar