As one of the NHL's smaller markets, Nashville's financial success is influenced heavily by the terms of the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement. So how will the new deal impact the Predators? Let's take a look at the highlights of the document as detailed at Puck Daddy.
A major issue during the negotiations was how the league would move the salary cap lower as the players' share of Hockey Related Revenue declines over time from 57% to 50%. Initially, the NHL wanted to set the 2013-2014 salary cap at $60 million (this season, the cap is $70.2 million), which would force many high-spending teams to trade away or buy out players they already have under contract.
Ultimately, the two sides agreed to a cap next season of $64.3 million, with a floor of $44 million. That will be much less of a hassle for those teams to fit under, and there are two "compliance buyouts" available per team which allow them to shed contracts if they need to.
For the Nashville Predators, this shouldn't be a problem. Their cap figure currently stands at $54.7 million per CapGeek. This summer, the Restricted Free Agents they'll have to deal with are Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling, Matt Halischuk & Roman Josi, so they should still be able to stay well below the top of the cap range.
Will that level of payroll affect the next point, however?
The NHLPA had expressed an interest in expanding the scale & scope of revenue sharing right from the beginning of the CBA negotiations, and indeed that is happening under this new deal. While we have yet to see the mechanics of how the new system will work, one important point regarding Nashville under the old CBA was that a portion of revenue sharing was only made available to teams spending under the midpoint of the range between the salary cap & floor. While they stand below that line today, it looks likely that they would be above it for the 2013-2014 season, so we'll have to see if that language is still in there. If so, that may put pressure on the Preds this summer.
Regardless of that "mid-point" issue, there will be more teams feeding from the revenue sharing trough going forward, because now teams in large markets (i.e. New York Islanders, Anaheim Ducks) will be allowed to receive funds, where previously they were not. While more funds are coming through that system, there are also more recipients, so we don't know how that will work out for the Preds.
Limits on Contract Length & Salary Variance
The new CBA will limit teams re-signing their own free agents to an 8-year maximum, or 7 years for a free agent on the open market. In addition, salary can only vary 35% from year-to-year, with no season's pay being less than 50% of the highest salary under that contract.
In other words, no more contracts that pay a guy more than $10 million early on, with a few years at $1 million at the end to bring the average (and thus cap hit) down, like what we see with Shea Weber's contract.
The Predators are already on the hook for Weber's deal, and it's unlikely that they would fall into such circumstances again, so this aspect of the new CBA won't have much direct effect on them.
Salary arbitration rights are largely unchanged, but teams won't be able to walk away from an arbitrator's ruling unless the award is $3.5 million or more (recall that the Preds signed J.P. Dumont in 2006 because Buffalo walked away from such a ruling, making him a free agent). With Patric Hornqvist headed for RFA status this summer, it's conceivable that this clause could be a factor in his situation.