Philadelphia likely will never suffer the consequences for the massive blunder in which management agreed to pay $33.4 million of the total $34.9 million within the first five years of the extension. And thus would be on the hook for a $4.921 million cap hit in 2015-16 and 2016-17, even with the defenseman in expected retirement.
The Flyers will not take the hit because the CBA will be long extinct by that time, with another round of rollbacks and amnesty buyouts expected to bridge the gap between the current labor agreement and whatever comes next.
There are no guarantees, of course, but no one knows the fate of contracts that run beyond 2011-12, which is when the CBA will expire once the NHLPA exercises its pro-forma option to extend the deal through that season.
It would, however, be a shock if the league doesn't recalibrate as part of a battle that's certain to include a laundry list of givebacks from the union intended to shrink the cap. Indeed, several general managers have told Slap Shots they believe a rollback of up to 15 percent plus a round of amnesty buyouts will be necessary at the end of next season in order to accommodate a decrease in the 2010-11 cap that is expected to be meaningful.
If teams are allowed to buy-out big contracts without the attendant cap hit, and (say) ten teams take advantage of this, where are these players going to play? It’s exactly the same problem as the one in which the teams need to find a trading partner: there are limited buyers. The difference being that (1) the teams who are dumping salary don’t have to take a cap hit (if they buy out the player) and (2) they don’t get any picks or prospects in compensation (because it’s a buy-out, not a salary-dumping trade).
Presumably, if the cap goes down to $50MM, then there will be probably about 8-10 teams who need to dump salary, 10-15 teams who don’t need to but also don’t have room to sign anyone, and 5-10 teams who don’t need to dump and CAN afford to sign some of these Brieres, etc..
That’s a lot of guys going to play in the KHL.
Also, woe be to any players who are UFA next summer, if "amnesty buy-outs" come to pass. It’s going to be a crowded market-place.