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We're almost done with the final grades here at Mile High Hockey, which means that it is time to start to shift our focus from a review of last year to a look ahead toward the 2012-2013 Stanley Cup season. That is, if we have a 2012-2013 season. The CBA between the NHL and NHLPA expires on September 15th and it is not beyond either side to screw over us hockey fans while they fight over how to divvy up our money.

Since there isn't currently a CBA in place for next year, there is some added uncertainty affecting all teams and their financial planning this summer. Our old Friend of SB Nation (NAMBLA for short), James Mirtle, is reporting that the league is expecting to implement a temporary cap figure of $70.3 million next year. That number is nearly double the $39 million cap for the first year of the CBA; good thing we nerfed an entire NHL season to get some cost certainty. Beyond the largess, the key word there is "temporary". Until a new CBA is ratified, no one know what the cap will be next year. So, while it looks like each team has just been handed $6 million dollars to throw at Zach Parise or Ryan Suter, that cap room may not materialize.

That won't be an issue for the Avalanche, a team that was hit hard by CBA changes in 2005. Our last few summers at MHH have focused more on wondering how the Avalanche would get to the cap floor. This year, we'll have the added bonus of wondering just what the floor will be or even if there will be a cap floor. Based on the $70.3 cap figure, the floor...er, "Lower Limit" would be $54.3 million. I'll be talking more about specific numbers in the coming weeks, but right now I'm figuring that the Avs have 9 potential roster players signed for a total $23.5 million.

In other words, the Avs will need to spend some money. If you were to take ALL 23 the players the Avs have under contract next year and then re-sign all 9 RFAs for their same cap number and somehow find a way to squeeze all 32 onto the roster in the fall through creative IR use, the Avs would still be about $5 million short of the floor. More realistically, the Avs have about $31 million to sign 13 players, including RFAs like Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly and Erik Johnson. Again, we'll get into specifics as we move towards July 1st.

All of that, though, is based on the current CBA and I'm not even sure that document has any penalty for not being above the floor. All I could find was this:

Lower Limit. No Club shall, after commencement of the regular season, be permitted to have an Averaged Club Salary that falls below the Lower Limit for that League Year.

That's section 50.5.c.i for those following along in their pocket CBAs. Unless I'm missing an actually penalty in some other lawerly mumbo jumbo elsewhere, actual repercussions for being below the floor aren't spelled out. And the entire exercise is moot, as this won't be the CBA the teams will be operating under next year, just the CBA that is in place as they stock their teams for next year (solid planning there).

To sum things up, Avalanche will have to spend a lot of money this offseason, maybe, or perhaps bad things might happen. Now that we have that figured out, we can start looking at how the Avalanche might spend this money, so stay tuned.