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The last time the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, their roster went through two years of dramatic departures, as nearly all of their standout role players were jettisoned due to salary cap considerations.
Will it happen again?
Already there’s word that GM Stan Bowman is shopping Game 6 hero Dave Bolland, who has one year left on his contact at $3.375 million. But the real drama entering the offseason for Bowman centered around compliance buyouts, and whether star winger Marian Hossa might receive one.
The “cap recapture” penalty that was written into the new CBA punished circumventing deals signed under the previous agreement. Deals like the, ahem, “creative accounting” on Hossa’s 12-year, $63.3-million contract that dips to four years at $1 million annually from 2017-2021, when Hossa would be a spry 42 years old.
Basically, “cap recapture” goes after front-loaded contracts, squaring the cap savings teams were able to manage through circumvention. From James Neveau of NBC Chicago:
The way cap recapture works is that a team “owes”, in the form of a salary cap penalty, the total amount that the player’s actual salary and cap hit are separated by. In Hossa’s case, the math works out to $18.2 million over those first seven years of the deal, which can be paid off in yearly installments rather than all at once.
From Sean Gentille of The Sporting News, the deal with Hossa:
The sooner he retires, the larger the hit Chicago takes under the so-called "cap recapture" rules that retroactively punish back-diving deals like Hossa's.
Under the new CBA, teams receiving a “cap advantage” from long-term contracts (defined as seven years or more) will be penalized if a player retires from or leaves the NHL before the contract expires. If and when that happens, the team will penalized the difference between the player's salary and cap hit for the remainder of the contract.
If Hossa retired in 2015, the Blackhawks would have a $2,625,000 cap hit penalty from that year through 2021. If he retired in, say, 2018, after one year of his $1 million salary seasons, the Blackhawks would have $4,275,000 of dead cap space through 2021. (Via Cap Geek)
So a compliance buyout wasn’t out of the question for Hossa, 34, who was ineffective in the later rounds of the playoffs due to a back injury. But the Blackhawks aren’t giving him one.
Defenseman Steve Montador and left wing Rostislav Olesz are getting the two “amnesty” buyouts from the team.
Montador had two years left with a $2.75 million cap hit. Olesz had one year left at a $3.125 million cap hit. Both were non-factors for the Blackhawks in their Cup run.
So Marian Hossa remains a Blackhawk … although Elliotte Friedman recently didn’t rule out the chance he could be traded.
Said Stan Bowman, on Hossa's contract: "That doesn't concern me at all. He's a warrior. He's looking to play hockey, he's not looking to retire."
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