Penguins Summer Inactivity Explained?

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 07: Team owner Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins drops the puck between Sidney Crosby #87 and Mike Richards #18 of the Philadelphia Flyers as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman looks on prior to the arena opening game at the Consol Energy Center on October 7 2010 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

After hosting the draft and stealing the show by trading Jordan Staal, it's been a fairly dull and boring summer for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sure, they did sign Sidney Crosby long-term, but that was seen as a foregone conclusion. After bidding (and losing) on Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Penguins haven't made many moves to add to their team.

Worse yet, they lost two top-end players in Zbynek Michalek and Steve Sullivan and have made absolutely zero moves to replace them from the outside.

As we grind to an apparent work-stoppage, the reason why may be coming into focus. Darren Dreger of TSN had details of the owners latest proposal to the player's union:

The cap for 2012-13 - projected to be $70.2 million under the existing CBA - would be cut to a fixed $58 million under the latest proposal.

That number would rise to a fixed $60 million in 2013-14 and then to a fixed $62 million the following year.

Projected cap numbers for the final three years of the deal include: $64.2 million in 2015-16, $67.6 million in 2016-17 and $71.1 million in 2017-18.

Negotiations are on-going, and no one expects the PA to sign off on this proposal as is, but even with the owners conceding some ground, it is still a pretty good bet the salary cap limit is going to be dropped for 2012-13 once the final deal is agreed to and the dust clears.

The owners current offer does not include any sort of player salary roll-back, which seems to indicate they've given ground there. So, if things work out for this aspect of the deal in the end, the contracts currently on the books will still be in the same amounts. This would be a departure from the last lockout when all existing contracts were reduced by 24%. The owners have dropped that, at least for now it looks like they're going to look to control their costs via top end percentages and a set upper limit for the salary cap. Again, all subject to change as the negotiations continue, so nothing's set in stone just yet.

According to capgeek, the Pens currently sit at $60.2 million in salary for 2012-13 season. No word if there's going to be some escrow, rollback, amnesty buyout that may fiddle with that number in the final agreement, but like many other NHL teams that did not do a lot this summer, it seems Pittsburgh's management definitely left themselves some wiggle room by not targeting middle-tier free agents on July 1 that could possibly upset their salary structure in whatever the post-CBA world may look like.

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