“There is all sorts of talk that players will have to renegotiate their contracts to get underneath the salary cap…that is not going to be allowed. Players are not going to be allowed to renegotiate their contracts. They are stuck with the deal unless they are bought out.”
“The expected new collective bargaining agreement (due any day now at your local rink) is expected to contain a clause in which teams are allowed a one-time chance to buy out any and all contracts and not have it count against the new salary cap…Some big money teams wanted a dispersal draft, but the players shot that down. So, the buyout was a compromise, with one interesting twist – the teams can’t reacquire their own players.”
Putting these two CBA terms together spells disaster for the Red Wings and their fans’ hopes to keep the current roster together. The Wings currently have 14 players on the 2005-2006 payroll, to the tune of $49.475 million, or $37.601 post-rollback. Depending on where the salary cap ceiling lands, it’ll be between $36-39 million. Assuming an active roster of 23 players in addition to reserves, this means the Wings will need to add at least 9 player salaries to their already $37.601 post-rollback payroll.
When I did the June 25 analysis of the Wings’ payroll for next season, I was assuming that renegotiations/deferments were fair game. And even after projecting $4.26 million in renegotiations/deferments, I was left buying out Hatcher, with a payroll of $36.351 million for 22 players. Now it looks like that breakdown has been outdated by a newly released term to the CBA: no renegotiations.
This really puts a wrench in the hope for continuity for next seasons’ Wings roster. Not only will the Wings have to buyout Hatcher and Whitney (and I stress “have to”), but now Shanahan and McCarty are in danger of deportation. Considering that Robert Lang was the single force that pushed the Wings past the Predators during the playoffs, I have a hard time believing the Wings would buyout his $3.8 million next season. So next in line are Shanahan, at $2.28 million, and McCarty, at $1.71 million. This is much, much different than buying out Hatcher and Whitney, because Shanahan and McCarty are longtime Wings and actually popular among fans. I think the Wings could get under the cap if only one of those longtime Wings were dropped, so then I’d have to show McCarty the door. So, to recap, the Wings will be buying out Hatcher, Whitney, and McCarty.
And then we remember Nick Lidstrom, our $7.6 million dollar problem. Since the Wings can no longer ask Nick to renegotiate or defer, according to the report, the Wings will have to find a loophole to keep Nick. I’ll do it for them:
I see one way around the ban on renegotiations, but it relies on teammates trusting each other – a lot. First, ask Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to sign at the new league minimum of $400,000. Then, working with Lidstrom to avoid buying him out, ask him to personally defer $1.5 million each to Pavel and Henrik. Effectively, it’s renegotiating Nick’s contract to $4.6 million, and paying Datsyuk and Zetterberg each $1.9 million, while staying under the cap. But to the league, Nick will be making $7.6 million, and Pavel and Henrik will be accepting peanuts. Nick will have to pay his teammates instead of Ilitch. I’d recommend they use a bank in the Cayman Islands and possibly even have the money transferred between third parties close to the trio so nothing is in their names. Sounds like The Firm, eh?
If that doesn’t fly, or the league catches the likely fraud in that agreement, then the Wings will have to decide between having a balanced team (trade/buyout Nick) or dismantling the rest of the roster to accommodate for Nick.