Details from the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and ‘Return to Play’ (RTP) agreement, which will be voted on and implemented as a single package, are beginning to finally surface. One of the items within the tentative agreement is the set salary cap for the next few seasons.
According to Elliotte Friedman, the salary cap for 2020-21 season is $81.5 million, the same as the 2019-2020 season. The NHL/NHLPA are talking about keeping it there until revenues hit $4.8 billion. At that point, they will use the two years prior to calculate the cap number — meaning the 2022-23 ceiling will be based on 2020-21 revenues. That will give more certainty for teams to plan accordingly.
More details regarding the pending CBA/RTP agreement, as per Friedman:
• No-move and no-trade clauses now travel with a player who has agreed to lift one, even if they haven’t kicked in (previously, the acquiring team had to agree).
• Players aged 35 and over can sign multi-year deals that are flat or ascending and there will be no cap hit if they retire before the deal is up (previously, the cap hit stayed no matter what).
• Year-by-year variability: six-year contracts that are front-loaded and worth at least 7.5 per cent of the cap cannot exceed 35 per cent between the highest and lowest salary amounts. Rules for other contracts remain the same (I’ve heard players and teams will consider back-loading new contracts because escrow is capped at a lower number and cash flow should improve for clubs).
• No changes to signing bonuses
*There are no more conditional picks in trades based on a player re-signing with the acquiring team. For example, the New Jersey Devils’ current third-rounder from Arizona in the Taylor Hall deal upgrades if he re-signs with the Coyotes. Agents and NHLPA staff felt it hurt players’ value.
As for return to play, anyone has the right to opt out without penalty. There will be pre-testing before everyone travels to the hub, and in the final week before arrival everyone will be asked to stay at home as much as possible, besides going to the rink. Once there, testing will take place on a daily basis, as each team will have a set time each day depending on their schedule.
Face covering will be mandatory at all times in the bubble, with social distancing practiced — including restrictions on the number of people allowed in the lobby and on elevators. Everyone will get their own room.
And, there will be rules if someone needs to leave for an emergency, in terms of if re-entry will be allowed and the conditions for that.
Obviously, there will be more, but this gives you an idea of where everything is going.
The NHL and the NHLPA are trying to finalize the tentative agreement on Phase 3/4 RTP protocols, a CBA extension, transition rules and critical dates calendar. They’re trying to tie up remaining loose ends and finalize language, especially on the CBA Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
According to Bob McKenzie, an agreement is believed to be close but as they like to say, it’s not done at all until it’s all done. A tentative agreement could be reached today but it may well carry over to the weekend.
Once tentative agreement has been reached, whenever that might be, it’s expected the NHL and NHLPA will issue a joint statement to that effect. Then the ratification process can begin.
On the NHL side, ratification can happen fairly quickly. A board of governors conference call can be arranged in short order. Ratification would follow.
On the NHLPA side, ratification is a little more involved and time consuming. When a tentative agreement is reached, the NHLPA executive committee will have a call in order to approve/endorse the agreement and then take it to the full NHLPA membership for a vote. Membership votes can take two or three days to complete. A simple majority is required to ratify an agreement. Once the agreement is ratified by NHLPA and NHL, the RTP protocols can begin to be enacted.
The current schedule for the return to play:
By Jon Sorensen