One of the latest, greatest fights remaining in this silly NHL lockout is over the salary cap.
And not for the shortened season, but for 2013-14, when they'll be back to 82 games.
The league is insisting on a limit of just $60-million, which is where the salary cap would be set based on the players receiving 50 per cent (instead of 57 per cent) of last year's $3.3-billion in revenues.
(Quick calculation on that? Take $3.3-billion, times by 0.50, minus $90-million for benefits, then divide by 30 teams. That gives you a $52-million midpoint, which is always $8-million below the cap.)
The players, on the other hand, want a $67-million cap to give them options where to play.
Here's guessing the two sides eventually settle in the middle, but either way, things could get tight for a lot of NHL teams. According to capgeek.com, 11 teams already have more than $50-million committed to payrolls for 2013-14, leaving them less than $10-million to sign another six to nine players apiece.
And that's with quite a few restricted free agents out there to re-sign.
Here's the full chart of what teams have committed for that season and how it looks against a $60-million cap:
On average, teams have 14 players signed for $46-million for that season, leaving $14-million in cap space if the limit is set at the low figure of $60-million.
That $1.38-billion for 418 players would also be a huge chunk of the players' projected share of $1.65-billion, and those are cap dollars, not necessarily real dollars (which can be vastly different due to front-loaded deals).
Even with the make whole money coming in, that's why there's likely to be a high escrow figure that season.
One thing worth remembering about this table, though, is that there are a lot of salaries included in there that might not necessarily exist come October. The Habs, for one, could buyout Scott Gomez and fall to ninth on the list.
The figures here also include players like Chris Pronger for the Flyers despite the fact his salary is likely to end up on long-term injured reserve and not impact their ability to spend.
Then there are teams like the Oilers who have a huge amount in bonuses for entry level players that may not wind up on their cap.
That said, this gives you a general idea of who's committed a lot of cash to the cap for that season and who hasn't. The last time around, coming out of the 2004-05 lockout, some teams like the Bruins didn't have many players signed and had a tough time rebounding.
This time, if cap space is this tight, it might pay to be a team like Toronto or St. Louis and have a lot of cash to spend on the few free agents who become available.
As we saw last time, however, life under a new CBA can be very unpredictable. Talent was so hard to come by last time that teams quickly locked in all of their stars, and a lot of those long-term deals are going to flow deep into the new agreement.
It'll likely take some time, in other words, for a new agreement to really reshape the league's competitive balance.