Ben Kuzma: Would a voluntary player exception proposal help the Canucks?

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“… The system we have implemented since 2004-05 – a cost control system – must evolve to allow the teams to make their own judgments. “- Players’ agent Kurt Overhardt

We live in a hypothetical world these days, so why not a hypothetical concept of NHL?

Imagine the collective agreement expiring at the end of the next regular season and not the following fall after the end of the 2021-2022 campaign?

The Vancouver Canucks would have two potential generational players Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes looking for market value next summer as low-cost free agents – if their deals were not completed earlier.

Suppose they wait until the end of 2020-2021, but in any case, adapting the dynamic duo to current cap constraints would create a big problem. Pettersson won the Calder Trophy last season as the best rookie in the league and Hughes could do the same this interrupted season, once the league decides when and how to distribute its annual equipment amid significant new pandemic concerns. coronavirus.

What would happen if there was a new mechanism in a new CBA to help the next Canucks crunch?

Denver-based players agent Kurt Overhardt of K.O. Sports Inc., with partner Brian Schoelzel, offers a voluntary player exception program for one player from each club with a minimum payout threshold to qualify. This would keep a top player and not make the salary count towards the ceiling.

A luxury tax system would benefit teams who choose not to use the exemption. From a Canucks perspective, it could hypothetically play and not play with optics.

With their With the top seven players having current caps ranging from US $ 4.6 million to $ 6 million, the club has done a better job of preventing the nose from coming out of the partnership financially while maintaining its competitiveness. It just took one for the team and ended up on bigger dollars.

And it comes from trade for a productive player like top scorer JT Miller, 27, who has three more seasons at an acceptable annual cap of $ 5.25 million and salary payments of $ 4.5 million. , $ 6 million and $ 4.5 million.

You could argue in the midst of big debates surrounding the Pettersson and Hughes expansions that paying them the same amount – and designating one as the player’s exception – could help tighten the cap by opening up a seat in the list.

“You have a very competitive homeowner in Vancouver and let him make his own value judgment,” said Overhardt on Tuesday. “Some owners will use the exceptional player to sign a star player or simply sign another and take that money out of the cap to keep the team united.

“They (the Canucks) did an incredible job in rebuilding this team. He’s one of the youngest and it’s such an exciting type of hockey that Travis Green makes them play. You want the guys to play there and as a league, we need them to be big too. “

It’s a concept that could work for ceiling considerations, but it would also force owners to spend more money to keep an elite player. And agents would gain a greater percentage of their clients’ rich new contracts.

“People are allowed to be cynical,” added Overhardt, whose original proposal was written in January. “We tried to be really objective with the information provided in the article. This is all factual and public information.

“It is always good to have critical thoughts and creative solutions. We must never accept things as they are in business. We have to evolve. It’s a mechanism for owners to keep their teams together.

“We have super elite players and the league certainly markets them, but from a compensation perspective, I think it is important that the system we have had in place since 2004-05 – a cost control system – must evolve to allow the teams to make their own judgments.

“This would allow the best players to be compensated and the others not to be penalized. It is a long-term vision, not a solution to the current pandemic. People must see the forest through the trees. Things are going to get better, but we have to tackle the economic problems.

“I believe a rising tide lifts all ships. This is not a new idea. The NBA has made CBA adjustments and the NFL is similar in that there is a game in play. The NHL has done a good job of controlling costs and that is all that this league offers now. From a work point of view, it’s great.

“There is no other job content I know of in the world that exists with an escrow system in which employers would normally be responsible. It must evolve. “

With hindsight, if the player exception was in place in 2014, the Chicago Blackhawks could have eased a considerable cap with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

They signed identical extensions of $ 84 million over eight years, which produced an annual cap of $ 10.5 million and payments that started at $ 13.8 million and fell to $ 6.9 million. dollars a year in the past three seasons.

Canucks general manager Jim Benning has yet to review the Overhardt concept, but has given it some thought.

“The reason we have a cap is to try to create a level playing field for all teams,” said Benning on Tuesday. “It looks like it will benefit teams that have more money to pay the luxury tax. “

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