NHL Budges on CBA Terms and Jeopardizes Bryzgalov’s Future

Word broke during the first period of the U.S. – Russia World Junior Championship game that the NHL has made a new proposal to the NHLPA, confirming Tweets made by Eklund last night on the topic

 

Pierre LeBrun of ESPN broke the new proposal down in greater detail. The key points are as follows:

  • NHL now proposing 6-year limit on contracts, 7 years if it’s a returning player. This is up from the 5-year limit they initially sought.
  • The Make Whole provision stays at $300 million.
  • A buyout that will count against the players’ share of revenues but not the cap hit of the team prior to the 2013-2014 season. This will aid in compliance with the new, lower salary cap.
  • Year-to-year max contract value variance increase from 5% to 10%, meaning a contract can increase, or more importantly, decrease by 5 additional percent.

All four points are pretty salient, but the last two are key in my view. The third directly affects the Flyers, as it potentially means they can jettison that hastily constructed Ilya Bryzgalov deal. I know, I know, he’s only one year in, but I don’t think he’ll ever deliver on the value of his contract. Assuming no changes to LTIR rules (Chris Pronger), this puts some pretty heavy sights directly on Bryz. The fourth is interesting because contracts can now decrease, or backdive, at a higher relative amount. This means that for a player in his early thirties, teams can float slightly more front-loaded contracts. For example, say a free agent is offered $10 million in his first year with a new team, but that new team wants to bring him down to the minimum amount allowed by the end of the contract. With a 5% variance, he can only get down to $7.74 million with an average cap hit of $8.83 million. Using the NHL’s newly proposed 10% variance, his last year is down to $5.90 million and his average cap hit drops over 11.5% to $7.81 million. See below for a graphic representation: Individually, these are not game-changers, but collectively, they give credibility to Fehr and may bring both sides back to the table to start discussions anew. As it pertains to the Flyers, it also means their goaltending situation may once again be in a state of flux.

 

EDIT: I misunderstood the NHL’s intent on variance. The 10% is from the first-year value, rendering percentage saved on AAV discussion moot.