Is a 30-35 million cap even possible?

With the recent negotiation breakdown I thought that I would look into the feasibility of a salary cap. It seems like the owners won’t bend on this so I looked at the current salary of my favorite team and wanted to see if a rumored cap of 30 to 35 million was even possible.

I will start by saying that my favorite team is the Leafs and their player contracts were the easiest to find as it is listed on their website. I will also answer the arguements that I am sure to hear from fans of teams like Atlanta who only had a team payroll last year of 27.2 million compared to the Leafs 61.8.In looking at the Leafs payroll for next season 2005/06, they only have 12 players under contract. The players are; Belfour, Tellqvist, Bell, Colaiacovo, Hedin, Kaberle, Klee, McCabe, Stajan, Sundin, Tucker and Wellwood. The salaries of these players adds up to approximately 30 million dollars, with 8 million of that going to Mats Sundin who is under contract until 2007/08. If a cap does come into affect at the 35 million range then the Leafs have about 5 million to spend on 2 more defenceman and about 14 forwards. This is just not possible.

Many people have suggested that the league will have to grandfather a salary cap in and this seems like a certainty. Teams like my Leafs, the Flyers, Wings and Avalanche cannot be punished for playing within the rules of the previous CBA. Now, there are those that will say that the Leafs and the big money spenders have caused their own problems and will just have to cope with a cap. Is this really the case, well lets look at the Thrashers and their 27 million dollar payroll. Things might look good for them right now but lets take a look at some of their players salaries; Heatley – 1 million, Kovalchuk – 1.1 million, Lessard – .5 million, Kloucek – .4 million, Stefan – 1.3 million. I could keep going on with this but my point is these guys and others will all be getting raises, especially Kovalchuk and Heatley who should get in the area of 6 million and 5 million respectively. Just adding these two salary increases pushes the Thrashers payroll to 36 million and over the cap.

I believe that the current CBA does not work and will kill the NHL and I also believe that we pay our pro athletes way too much money BUT I also feel that the owners have caused this mess themselves. Unfortunately teams like the Leafs, Rangers and before them the St. Louis Blues have tried to hide a deficiency in any ability to develop a team through the draft and drive up player salaries by raiding the smaller market teams. They did this however within the rules of the CBA and thus caused their own problems. I am not really sure how owners of teams like Toronto, Philadelphia, Detroit, Colorado, St. Louis, Dallas, Los Angeles, and the Rangers can justify a cap.

Yes, a cap might help to save the league but if the rumored 30 to 35 million is correct I just can’t see how teams can sign 25+ players and play within those rules. This means that each player on average will earn less than 2 million – this isn’t going to happen.

The information for this article was obtained through TSN, the Maple Leafs website and the NHLPA.