July 03, 2011
If the 2011 NHL Free Agent Frenzy proved anything, it's that creative accounting with the salary cap is alive and well.
Christian Ehrhoff's(notes) 10-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres includes three years of $1 million at the end. Ilya Bryzgalov's(notes) nine-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers includes a final year that drops to $1.25 million after starting at $10 million. According to the post-Kovalchuk agreement by the NHL and the NHLPA on cap circumvention, these were kosher.
Max Talbot(notes) signed a $9 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers that spans five years. According to Gord Miller of TSN, the structure of that deal has run afoul of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement's salary cap circumvention provisions. Miller wrote on Sunday that the Flyers are expected to tweak the deal and that no penalties to the team are expected.
The problem with the Talbot deal is $2.25 in year 2-3 then drops to $1 in year 4. Drop can't be more than half lowest number in 1st two years.
Thank the hockey gods the NHL's on the case of this Max Talbot contract. It's these types of deals that are really turning the free-agent process and the salary cap into a farce. Not the ones for former Vancouver defensemen who sign for 10 years and make $37 million of their $40 million in the first seven years. Those are fine. (Sigh ...)