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Anarchy Ensues

TSN has a piece regarding just what life will be like this summer if and when the CBA deal is ironed out and clubs and players can go on with their lives.

Because once free agency kicks off sometime this summer, it's going be mass mayhem in the NHL.

Some teams hardly have any players under contract for next season. Others will cut their rosters by buying out big contracts. And some clubs will approach star players to re-structure their contracts in order to create cap room.

Agents, meanwhile, will need to quickly get a feel for the landscape and find a home for their clients before all the cap room is gone around the league.

The Lightning were sitting with a projected payroll somewhere in the 40 million dollar range (without Martin St. Louis signed) for the 2004-05 season. If the payroll was to be 46 million, two factors need to be penciled in with the rumored stipulations of the CBA deal:

1) 24 percent rollback on salaries.
2) 2004-05 contracts wiped out.

This means guys like Nolan Pratt, Dmitri Afanasenkov, Nikita Alexeev, Shane Willis, Martin Cibak and Brian Eklund are now FA's from one degree to another (depending on stipulations of the new CBA). These are hardly all-star names and only Affy, Pratt and Cibak were contributing to the Lightning roster last year (and for argument sake, Eric Perrin was supposed to compete for Cibak's job in 2004-05 training camp).

If the Lightning were supposed to have a payroll of just over 42 million for 2004-05 (without St. Louis re-signing), the 24% rollback gets them under the cap at 32.06 Million dollars. That's not a bad position. axe Khabby's contract and there is more room to manuever to re-sign St. Louis, Pratt, Andreychuk and others and possibly a netminder.

I'm thinking the picture I am painting leaves out a lot of possiblities - and it does. There is so much unknown on hwo the new CBA will work that it's impossible to do better speculating.