CBA Explained: the cap; 35-plus contracts; free agency; re-entry waivers; LTIR; NHL Entry Draft

While I believe I’ve covered most of the major changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in CBA Explained throughout this season, there are a few other points I wanted to touch on. Some of them are unchanged from the previous CBA, but are worth pointing out. They are all critical details in understanding how the league and its teams function.

Wherever possible, I will link to my old CBA 101 articles for more detailed explanations of some of the old CBA’s stipulations that remain in place. From the CBA Summary of terms:

  • The salary cap
    • The 2013-2014 cap will be $64.3 million, down from this season’s allowed $70.2 million.
    • The 2014-2015 season and beyond will be calculated based upon the players making 50% of Hockey Related Revenue (HRR).
  • The 35-plus rule remains in place, without change. This rule applies to contracts greater than one year in length for players that are age 35 or older when the contract takes effect. In a nutshell, it states that a player on a 35-plus contract will always hit the team’s salary cap (potentially less $100k), regardless of where or whether they are playing. This is why Chris Pronger can never truly retire.
  • Free Agency will still begin on July 1 however, players and teams will now be allowed  to interview with each other after the NHL Draft and before that July 1 date.
  • Re-entry waivers have been eliminated. Re-entry waivers are the reason Wade Redden was buried in the AHL for so long. Some players that were sent to the AHL would require passing re-entry waivers on the way back up to the NHL in which they could be claimed for 50% of the cost. As a result, many players were never recalled for fear of them being claimed.
  • Performance Bonus Cushions will be in place for every year of the CBA. A bonus cushion allows teams to temporarily exceed the cap because of player bonuses. Many bonuses are never earned and therefore never hit the cap, effectively reducing the player’s cap hit. If after the season a team is over the cap because of bonuses, they will receive a bonus overage penalty the following season. The bonus cushion is also the reason Brayden Schenn “had” (I use that term loosely because he didn’t literally have to, but it was the smart decision based on his bonuses) to begin the season in the AHL last year.
  • Long-term Injured Reserve (LTIR) remains in place; which as we all know is the Flyers’ best friend…for better or worse. LTIR allows teams to exceed the cap for players that are injured. LTIR is not the same as cap space, and it does have negative ramifications.
  • NHL Entry Draft
    • All non-playoff teams will be in the draft lottery and will now all have a chance at the #1 overall draft pick.
    • Compensatory draft picks can now be given for unsigned first round draft picks.
    • NHL teams now own the rights of drafted European players for four years. Had this been in place under the previous CBA, the Flyers may never have let Joakim Eriksson go unsigned.