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NHL Ends Lockout
Now what?
1/6/13 - By Mike Lee -

The NHL lockout is officially over. Frankly, I'm not quite sure how to react. Should I be jumping for joy, because I get to see professional hockey again? Should I be disgusted by the fact that this is the second time the league and players have held the fans hostage in the name of the all mighty dollar? Whatever the case, the game will resume sometime this season, assuming the players ratify the new collective bargaining agreement.

Just so you're clear, the announcement that was made early Sunday morning deals with the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, as agreed to by the negotiators from both the NHL and NHLPA. The players need to vote to formally approve the agreement. All signs suggest that they will, but you never know.

Stranger things have happened.

As for the matters that mean the most to fans, those details are still pending. Namely, when will the season starts? Details like training camps, camp roster sizes and a formal schedule still need to be hashed out.

The league had hoped to fit in a 48-games schedule if the lockout was resolved this week. That's still a possibility, but it would mean cramming more games into a shorter window of time. Most venues have other events booked after June, the normal end to the NHL season.

Without stadiums to play games in, the league would need to fit their schedules into available stadium slots. The Sharks still have to accommodate the SAP Open tennis tournament in February, which is typically when they take the longest road trip of the season. If the season where to start in late January, expect a flurry of home games in the first two weeks, followed by a void in the home schedule for 14 to 17 days.

The biggest question mark for San Jose will be there roster this season. If the owners got their way in the new agreement, the salary cap will have been reduced. That means, the Sharks may be forced to trim some regular roster players or re-negotiate contracts in order to get under the salary cap.

Don't expect too many players to step up to contract renegotiations after having already given up rights in the new bargaining agreement.

That means guys like Ryane Clowe and Michal Handzus could become early cap casualties.

Players need to regroup back in San Jose. As far as we know, only Dan Boyle, Logan Couture, Brad Stuart and Martin Havlat are currently in San Jose. According to CapGeek.com, the Sharks only have 21 players on their roster.

David Pollak, from the San Jose Mercury News, reported that the league's cap target hovers around the $60 million mark. It's not clear how that cap will be prorated to the upcoming abridged season, but if it's applied game-for-game, then San Jose would need to trim payroll.

They're currently sitting at $65,241,667. Under the old CBA, the team still had $4 million in cap space. Under the new agreement, then would need to cut $5 million and still fill four roster spots. The likely scenario would see Clowe and Handzus departing along with their combined $6.125 million salary. Both players are also unrestricted free agents at the end of this season, so both could be cut and re-signed to longer deals.

That seems more likely for Clowe, given his upside. Handzus is at the end of his career, and his injury plagued 2011-12 season makes him an unlikely candidate for a multi-year deal. He appeared in only two playoff games for San Jose last season.

San Jose's pool of veteran role players were not re-signed during the off-season and it's unlikely that you'll see most of those guys back. Brad Winchester would be a likely candidate to return, as the Sharks need some girth at forward and it's unlikely that he'd command much more than the $725,000 he earned last season.

Dominic Moore would have likely earned a pay raise over this $1.2 million contract under the old CBA, but it's unknown how much he will command this season.


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