Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 1/7/13

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 03: Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks warms up before playing against the Philadelphia Flyers on December 3, 2009 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Let’s drop the puck, finally The NHL and NHLPA have reached a tentative deal on a new collective bargaining agreement and the race to get home for training camp is already underway. As the NHL and its players snap back to business as usual the major aspects of a new deal have already begun to surface, and many of those changes have specific implications for the Canucks. The Cap https://twitter.com/Real_ESPNLeBrun/statuses/287892971041468416 As reported by Pierre LeBrun the upper limit of the 2012/13 cap will be $60-million, however teams will be permitted to spend up to the original amount of $70.2-million. As of this morning the Canucks have 23 players signed for a total of $67-million, leaving Mike Gillis just over $2.4-million to work with over the next couple weeks to finalize the roster. Opening Night https://twitter.com/Real_ESPNLeBrun/statuses/287891918338265088 Two scenarios have been suggested for potential NHL start dates: a 50-game season beginning on January 15th, or a 48-game season beginning on January 19th. In both cases training camp is expected to start later this week, and a showcase of divisional matchups are expected on opening night. Mike Gillis is going to be pressed for time getting his team ready for play (Photo: CBC) In any case this gives little time for Mike Gillis and the Vancouver Canucks to address issues within the lineup including the health of Ryan Kesler and the status of Roberto Luongo. Many have speculated a deal could already be in place to send Luongo to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but early this morning Bob McKenzie and the TSN panel made it clear nothing has been fully agreed upon. McKenzie also mentioned that Luongo has been skating with some of the Florida Panthers and that reviews of the veteran goaltender have been especially positive. Contract Length https://twitter.com/KatieStrangESPN/statuses/287869280173817856 Wherever Roberto Luongo ends up via trade, his lifetime contract with the Canucks will be one of the last of its kind ever to be signed in the NHL. Future contracts will be limited to 8 years under the new CBA, and the ability to “front-load” deals has also been significantly reduced. At the minimum a player must be paid 50% of the money they will receive in their highest paid season under a new contract. In other words, cap circumvention as we know it has been completely abolished. Buyouts https://twitter.com/Real_ESPNLeBrun/statuses/286857846602203136 In order for teams to adapt to the more stringent cap regulations in 2013/14 the NHL has conceded two buyouts for teams use in order to trim the fat off of their rosters. These buyouts are only available next summer as teams try to fit below the reduced 2013/14 cap of $64.3-million. Teams will have the ability to buyout a player by paying two-thirds of what remains on the existing contract. As Thomas Drance pointed out last week Vancouver’s obvious buyout candidates are Roberto Luongo, Keith Ballard, and David Booth. Assuming Mike Gillis is able to trade Luongo soon for reasonable return, both Ballard and Booth potentially face unprecedented pressure to perform in what ultimately becomes a contract year for overpaid payers. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE CANUCKS CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSPORTSBEAT!
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