Source: NHL escrow set at 8.5 percent

NEW YORK -- The NHL and the players' union have set the players' escrow rate at 8.5 percent for the first quarter of this season, the lowest rate since the first year after the lockout, a source told ESPN.com Tuesday.

Players set money aside in an escrow account in order to protect owners in the event players earn more than the allotted 57 percent of hockey-related revenues at the end of the season.

The league and the union are still negotiating the final escrow number for the 2010-11 season.

The players earned 90.59 percent of their 2009-10 contracts. The worst year for players was in 2008-09 when they earned only 87.12 percent of their contracts -- losing almost 13 percent.

The escrow system is expected to be chief among the NHLPA's concerns when collective bargaining talks begin in the second half of the season. The CBA expires Sept. 15 at midnight.

Pierre LeBrun is an NHL writer for ESPN.com.