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Report: NHL willing to move on contract variance, with key stipulation

Jan 4, 2013, 9:03 AM EDT

Ilya Kovalchuk Getty Images

The issue of contract variance — the amount a player’s salary can vary from season-to-season and start to finish in a multi-year deal — might be one that leads to some of the most noticeable post-lockout changes from a fan perspective.

Several teams took advantage of the old CBA’s loose rules when it came to how a contract could be structured to heavily front-load deals. That’s likely to change, but to what extent remains to be seen.

About a month ago, the NHL wanted to limit contract variance to 5%, but when it recently re-opened talks, it moved up to 10%. Now it looks like the NHL might be willing to go as high as 30% in terms of season-to-season variance, based on a CBC report.

The catch? They want the total variance capped at 60% of the highest-paid campaign.

In other words, Shea Weber, who was slated to earn $14 million in 2012-13 would have never been allowed to earn less than $8.4 million in any season of his contract if this proposed rule had existed last summer. Weber’s deal is heavily front-loaded and consequently, his cap hit is $7,857,143 despite his high initial salary.

The NHL’s reported offer is something the union might take issue with, as they previously wanted the minimum level to be 25% of the highest-paid season, according to the Globe and Mail.

Meanwhile, the NHL and NHLPA are expected to meet with mediators again today.

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