Published On: Sun, Aug 28th, 2016

NHL doesn't view Coyotes' use of cap space as major CBA loophole

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Norm Hall / National Hockey League / Getty

Credit the Arizona Coyotes for being creative with their salary cap situation, and taking advantage of a loophole that remains well within the structure of the collective bargaining agreement struck between the NHL and its players.

That’s how the league is viewing Arizona taking on the salary cap hits on players like Chris Pronger, Pavel Datsyuk and Dave Bolland, amounting to almost $18 million but resulting in less than $2 million in actual salary paid out by the club.

“I would say that it’s a matter that we monitor, like all other areas of the CBA, and if we believe it starts to be abused in a way that is inconsistent with how the system is designed to work, at that point, we would try to correct it in collective bargaining with the union,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Craig Morgan of Today’s Slapshot.

“I would say we aren’t at that point on this issue – we do not view it as the loophole that‎ some describe it as.”

Arizona is on the hook for $575,00 for Pronger’s salary, while his contract carries a cap hit of $4,941,429. Datsyuk’s cap hit is $7.5 million, but the Coyotes won’t pay him a cent because he decided to play in Russia this season.

In Bolland’s case, the Coyotes are expected to put him on long-term injured reserve at the beginning of the regular season as the veteran center continues to deal with a series of injury issues. Arizona, then, would only be responsible for 20 percent of his salary – or $3.3 million over the final three years of his deal – with insurance covering the rest.

Daly, however, doesn’t slot Bolland in the same situation as Pronger and Datsyuk.

“First of all, I would say that perhaps unlike Pronger (and maybe even Datsyuk), I’m not sure you can fairly characterize Bolland’s contract as dead cap space,” Daly said. “It’s my understanding the player still wants to play and continues to strive to get to a point physically where he can resume his career. So, I start from the perspective of having a problem with the premise.”

Should Bolland indeed be cleared to play, Arizona could be forced into unwanted expenditures, but the deal with the Florida Panthers was further sweetened by the acquisition of prospect Lawson Crouse. In the same way, the Datsyuk “trade” allowed the team to pick up an additional first-round pick, used to select defenseman Jakob Chychrun.

The Coyotes, then, are using cap space as an asset, forcing other teams to pay a premium to shed dead weight.

Up until now, it’s not being seen as a problem in the eyes of the NHL, but it may be addressed when the CBA exprires in 2022.

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