The details of the NHL's Tuesday CBA proposal are still filtering out, and the NHLPA's response is still being formulated, but we can look at some of its tenets to guess how it would affect the New York Islanders.
UPDATE, 10:15 a.m.: The NHL has posted the details of their offer, so additional notes have been added below to reflect that information.
UPDATE, 11:00 a.m.: We've included the text of the proposal in our story stream, and also added some other notes about revenue sharing. Further updates we'll be posted to this stream, but keep the discussion going here.
(Before we move on, thanks to everyone who commented in the SB Nation post we fronted on Lighthouse Hockey. That discussion can be found here, but the on-going saga has too many parts so you're better off following the stream of updates here.)
Anyway, there are a few points reported by multiple sources that have an obvious effect on the Islanders. Namely:
Altering three-year entry level contracts to two years
In theory, this might sound like a good thing for young players, but combined with pushing arbitration rights from year four to year five, it's probably meant to give young players less of a track record to ask for a big second contract.
Reducing the cap range to $43.9 to $59.9 million (with stipulation for limited $70 million spend)
This one almost goes without saying. The low-budget, low-revenue Isles operate near the cap floor every year.
Benefits: The Islanders franchise. Hurts: The last-leg veterans who count on short deals from the Islanders to meet the cap floor and finish off their careers.
NHL players "buried" in the AHL, Wade Redden-style, count against the cap
Essentially, AHL salaries of players on NHL contracts do not count against the cap, up to $105,000. Which also means the end of re-entry waivers.
If this happened, it would prevent Glen Sather from being able to bury his mistakes in the minors while adding a Gaborik or Richards as Dolan picks up the tab. (Oh, how that poor, poor Sather was handcuffed during his years in small-market Edmonton.)
Benefits: Teams that can't do it, like the Islanders? Teams that must carry injury-plagued players in the NHL, like the Islanders? Hurts: Smurfs
Allowing trading cap space, limited to the lesser of $3 million per year or 50% of salary (source: Bob McKenzie)
In theory, this carries the "cap mule" theory to another level. Now in addition to taking on players like Lubomir Visnovsky who have a higher cap hit than actual salary in their later years, a team could outright deal their cap space.
Benefits: The Islanders, if they're able to leverage it, and if big-market teams don't just find a new way to get around the cap. Hurts: Fans stuck watching cap mules.
NEW: Payroll Lower Limit must be satisfied without performance bonuses
Ahem. No more cap mules. At least not the kind who get you to the floor simply by virtue of bonuses unlikely to be achieved (Doug Weight on one end, Nino Niederreiter on the other).
Every team can receive revenue sharing, but top 10 grossing teams pay 50% of $200 million pool (McKenzie)
Any time the league talks revenue sharing, you should view it with suspicion. There are just too many wolves in the room who have reason to offer something that is undermined by its fine print and by Gary Bettman's sneaky rhetoric.
But in one sense, this revenue sharing move (again, if taken at face value) would be as close to Donald Fehr's pet luxury tax scheme that exists in the Glorious and Cap-Free Market Utopia of Major League Baseball, which to hear Fehr tell it, he single-handedly saved from ruin by preventing a salary cap through the beauty of approximately 37 work stoppages.
The devil is in the details, and the revenue sharing pool is still arguably not large, but if the richest teams are willing to put in an average of $10 million each to help out their brethren, it's notable.
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But that's all getting ahead of ourselves. Let's not forget that even if this proposal is a break from the NHL's previous position of scorched earth, it still represents a request that the players concede on nearly every issue -- not the least of which is a seven percent drop in their take of revenues.
So we'll see. The NHLPA is expected to counter-propose (itself a sign of some progress) within the next few days. It will be a while before we now how it all ends up. And whether the Islanders are better off for it.