When the NHL released its mid-October CBA offer to the public, everyone got a glimpse as to how the league was prepared to help teams manage the salary cap this season when it drops dramatically.
In that offer, the upper limit of the salary cap was $59.9 million, but a transition rule allowed teams to exceed it for only one season, permitting spending up to $70.2 million. That clause would prevent teams from having to dump major salaries in the short period of time between the CBA finalization and the start of the season.
But some team execs were left to wonder whether that's a robust enough transition rule. As one said during a recent phone conversation -- that transition rule is fine for this season, but what about next year?
The salary cap would still be in the low-$60 million range next year, and the ability to exceed it would disappear.
Some news Wednesday night from the New York Post's Larry Brooks shed light onto another transition rule that might help address that problem. Brooks tweeted that"amnesty buyouts are on table." Throughout these negotiations, the league has shown little to no appetite to include amnesty or buyouts as part of the next CBA. Early on in talks, one NHL source left little wiggle room on amnesty when I asked about it.
His response: "No amnesty."
So if it re-emerges as an option, it would have to be a push from the players, who certainly would be in favor of it. And it's not just players on board with amnesty. Front-office executives also wouldn't mind the additional flexibility amnesty would provide.
"I would almost think you have to do something to get compliance," said one GM. "You have to do something."
And what's the best route to compliance?
"That's the great thing," said another GM. "Right now, everything is negotiable."
There's been a lot of talk on the players' side about the "make whole" provision that ensures most of their current contracts are honored. But the transition rules being debated as the CBA negotiations get more serious this week are the GMs' version of the make-whole provision.
Many of the rosters currently constructed are the result of long-term planning under a system that could soon be obsolete. We don't know what the cap number is going to be. We don't even know for sure how salaries will be counted against the cap.
The new CBA may end up unraveling years of planning and preparation of some teams.
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