Tough test for Turin; cap on the brain


The NHL's board of governors meets this week in Arizona, where they will discuss the new NHL rules and standards of officiating, the possibility of an expanded playoff format (don't expect it to happen until at least the spring of 2008, if not 2009), and most important, the revenue picture. It's believed league revenues are significantly higher than anticipated and may even return to pre-lockout levels, about $2.1 billion. This would mean the $39 million salary cap (based on projected revenues this season of about $1.8 billion) will at least remain intact and could go up as opposed to the generally held preseason view that the cap could drop to as low as $37 million next season.

What does the rosy financial picture mean? The report could trigger a flurry of movement of players now that teams have a better idea of what they'll be able to spend next season. Petr Sykora, Todd Bertuzzi, Doug Weight, Tom Poti, Keith Tkachuk, Roberto Luongo (pictured) and Olaf Kolzig are all valuable commodities who could be on the move before the end of the season. All will take a significant financial commitment, either in terms of existing contracts or in inking a new deal. Teams with cap room that are either playoff ready (N.Y. Rangers, Buffalo and Nashville) or are on the bubble (Phoenix and Anaheim) might now be in a better position to take advantage of some of these assets. Although the trade deadline isn't until March 9, the good financial news revealed this week might prompt movement sooner rather than later.