• Trades, cheat deals and more CBA details

  • By Pierre LeBrun | January 7, 2013 11:26:37 PM PST

NEW YORK -- On Sunday, I broke down the more obvious key components of the tentative agreement.

Now after getting our hands on more details of the agreement from a source, we bring you more:

RETAINING SALARY IN TRADES
This was Brian Burke’s baby, an idea he pushed for years at GM meetings. Under the old CBA, teams could not absorb any part of a salary from a player they were trading -- unlike baseball for example.

But in this new agreement, teams will be able to do that.

Here are the main parameters of the rule: A club cannot absorb more than 50 percent of the players’ annual cap hit/salary in any trade. Any NHL club can only have up to three contracts on their payroll in which the contract was traded away under the retaining salary proviso. Also, only up to 15 percent of your upper limit cap amount can be used up by the money you have retained in trades.

For example, let’s say the Maple Leafs want to trade little-used blueliner Mike Komisarek and his $4.5-million cap hit ($3.5 million salary this year) to the New York Islanders (hypothetically). The Leafs could retain half the cap hit -- $2.25 million -- and half the salary -- $1.75 million -- in order to facilitate the deal. The Islanders would pay him the other half. This should facilitate more trades around the league, no question.

THE LUONGO RULE
This is another rule from the league aimed at hammering current back-diving deals (front-loaded, "cheat deals"). However, this has changed from its original form when the NHL first proposed it in October.

In the original formula, if a player like Roberto Luongo was traded and retired before the end of his deal, the Canucks (the team who signed him to the contract) would assume his remaining $5.33-million cap early hit in retirement. The new rule in this tentative agreement is different. Now, for any contract in excess of six years, both teams involved in a trade on a contract like Luongo’s would be penalized if he retired before the end of his deal.

To wit: let’s say the Canucks trade Luongo soon. Luongo has played two years of his 12-year contract, the Canucks paying him $16.716 million in salary but only absorbing a $5.33 million cap hit each year. That’s a cap savings of $6.056 million over two years so far for Vancouver. Under this new rule, should the Canucks trade him now and he retires with three years left on his contract, Vancouver would be charged that $6.056 million in cap savings over the final three years left on his deal from 2019 to 2022. However, let’s say for argument’s sake Luongo gets traded to Toronto, the Maple Leafs also would be subject to cap penalties if Luongo retires before the end of his deal.

To wit, part 2: If Luongo were to play the next seven years of his deal in Toronto before retiring, the Leafs would be paying him $43.666 million in salary but only counting $37.31 million against the cap over those seven years, a cap savings of $6.356 million. So if Luongo retires with three years left on his deal (because his salary falls to $1.618 million in the 10th year and then $1 million in the last two years of the deal), the Leafs would get charged that $6.356 million on their cap spread evenly over the remaining three years of his deal.

And obviously, if players under these back-diving deals are never traded, but retire before the end of their deals (Marian Hossa in Chicago), their current teams get charged the cap savings spread evenly over the remaining years of the deal.

COMPLIANCE BUYOUTS
Teams will be allowed up to two buyouts over the next two summers -- 2013 and 2014 -- either one in each summer or two in one summer and none in the other. The new detail here that I found interesting is that any player bought out under these circumstances CANNOT be re-acquired by that same team during the upcoming season, not by waivers, not by trade and not by free-agent signing.

Obvious reason here: The league doesn’t want teams to cheat the system and get a player back under a cheaper salary (since the buyout doesn’t count against the salary cap).

PLAYERS’ PENSIONS
The pension plan shall be frozen at the termination of this CBA, whether that’s in eight years or 10 years. The NHL and the NHLPA will have to either agree to continue the pension under similar guidelines in the next CBA, or renegotiate new terms for it. No small detail there, given the acrimony over this pension negotiation, which was only resolved at the 11th hour Sunday morning.

UFA FREE AGENCY INTERVIEW PERIOD
Similar to the NBA, the NHL has instituted a free-agency interview period prior to the actual signing period. UFAs will be able to meet and interview with potential clubs from the day after the NHL draft until June 30, prior to the July 1 opening of free agency.

What’s interesting about this is that I don’t think you’ll have a Zach Parise/Ryan Suter situation where you wait all the way to July 4 to sign with a team. Instead, their decisions will be made by June 30 for the most part, you would have to assume.


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