Terms are still being finalized and publicized, but the recently reached NHL collective bargaining agreement will have many unforeseen consequences. CBAs always do.
But a few results are already clear: This whole lockout exercise is affecting several players in odd ways.
Roberto Luongo: Suddenly Tradeable
Luongo was one of those players who signed a back-diving, cap-dodging that became all the rage as NHL general managers got better at navigating the previous CBA. Except goalies are a dime a dozen, and even a top goalie like Luongo is less desirable when his $5.3 million cap hit extends for 12 years, and the Vancouver Canucks identified a younger, cheaper replacement.
Last summer, Luongo was on the trade block but the Canucks found no takers. His preferred destination, the Florida Panthers, already have a few young (and thus cheap) goalies without having to devote $5.3 million in cap space on what will be the declining final 10 (or fewer) seasons of Luongo's career.
With the new CBA, however, comes methods to both make these players movable and punish their teams if they benefit too much from the back-divers. The rules are complex -- and yet to be officially published -- but suffice to say there is now more incentive for the Canucks to trade him, and more incentive for another team to take him on.
Lubomir Visnovsky: Suddenly Homesick
There are punchlines to be made (oh, you've already made them?) about Lubomir Visnovsky not wanting to come back overseas and report to the New York Islanders, who acquired him at last summer's draft. Visnovsky's journey in the NHL is a quirky one. Long upset at his original trade from the Los Angeles Kings -- right before his no-trade clause would have kicked in -- Visnovsky feels he's gotten a raw deal ever since.
On the bright side, his home country of Slovakia got a big-league team -- Slovan Bratislava entered the KHL -- and the lockout provided a perfect chance for him to play in a big-league atmosphere in front of fans who adore him ... until the lockout ended. If the agreement the NHL claims to have with the KHL holds, Visnovsky will be in the no-win situation of not wanting to report to Long Island, but not being able to continue playing at home if he holds out.
For Lubomir Visnovsky, the lockout giveth and the lockout taketh away.
Paul Ranger: Suddenly Another Chance, No Questions Asked
Paul Ranger left the game without explanation at age 25, just eight games into 2009-10. No one knew why, and most assumed that was the end of his career.
But last summer he got the fire back, and the uncertainty created by the NHL lockout gave him a chance to ease back in on a no-pressure AHL deal with the Toronto Marlies. In 28 AHL games afforded by the lockout, he's shined and put up points on one of the league's top teams. Instead of having to beg an NHL team to take a chance on whether he's stayed in true shape, he has a fresh pro resume to demonstrate he's ready to perform.
Does he want that? It's not yet clear. But if he does, teams will come calling.
Ilya Kovalchuk: On His Time, Just Like Always
Ilya Kovalchuk has never marched to anyone else's beat (except maybe that of Jacques Lemaire), and he's not about to start now that the NHL lockout took a big chunk out of his first $11 million season.
While Kovalchuk's absurd contract with the New Jersey Devils was the textbook case of loopholes missed in the last CBA, it also served as a source of inspiration for the NHL to hold a firm line: to restrict the length and variance of contracts, to keep teams that can't afford it from signing deals that literally throw their future franchise value in doubt, to keep GMs -- the congressmen of the NHL -- from using every short-sighted avenue to dump risk on their eventual successors.
Kovalchuk is still loaded and will continue to rake in millions of dollars but, with his salary jumping from $6 million to $11 million-plus in 2012-13 through 2015-16, this half-season's loss of revenue and next season's lower cap means his most lucrative years are now taking a hit.
He was pampered as a top pick in Atlanta, and strung the Thrashers along with pledges of interest in a long-term deal while forcing an eventual trade to New Jersey. He signed the contract that finally forced the NHL to step in during the last CBA. And now that he's spent the NHL lockout in the KHL, he's acting like maybe he won't return for NHL hockey.
But there's about $80 million that says he will.
Wade Redden: Suddenly Even Worse Off than Before?
Wade Redden has been in the AHL the last few years because the New York Rangers signed him to a silly deal that went from "overpayment" to "albatross" in the blink of an eye. Being the Rangers, they could afford to bury their mistake.
At least Redden got to play hockey for his $6.5 million, though. With the new CBA's rules targeting teams that used these routes to have their cake and eat it too, TSN's Bob McKenzie suggests the safest thing for the Rangers to do now is to keep paying Redden but not play him. Anywhere.
If it plays out that way, Redden will be the richest guy ever to be screwed by two different CBAs.