I've been thinking about what it would mean to the NHL if the players caved (say after a year or so) or if Bettman declares an impasse and is allowed to unilaterally implement his $31 million hard cap. The following is what I believe to be a very likely scenario (though feel free to refute it). Basically, the players would be unofficially divided into four classes based on skill and salary: Elite players: elite goalies, #1 d-men, forwards that anchor a top line. These players would likely make $4-6 mil, so we'll say $5 mil on average. Very good players: #1, though not elite, goalies, #2-3 d-men, forwards who can compliment a 1st liner or anchor a 2nd line. These players would make $2-3 mil ($2.5 on average). Good players: Borderline #1 goalies, #4-5 d-men, average 2nd line/good 3rd line forwards. These players would make $1-1.5 mil ($1.25 on average). Depth players: Backup goalies, #6-7 d-men, 3rd/4th line grinders and enforcers. These players would make $500k on average. With these figures, I'll take you through four possible teams under the cap. Team 1: 2 elite (E) players 3 very good (VG) players 6 good (G) players 12 depth (D) players G-E-VG D-G-G D-D-D D-D-D (D and D scratched) VG-VG G-G G-D (D scratched) E D Total payroll: $31 mil Team 2: 1 elite player 5 very good players 6 good players 11 depth players G-VG-VG G-VG-G D-G-D D-D-D (D and D scratched) E-VG G-G D-D (D scratched) VG D Total payroll: $30.5 mil Team 3: 0 elite players 7 very good players 7 good players 9 depth players G-VG-VG G-VG-G D-G-G D-D-D (D and D scratched) VG-VG VG-G G-D (D scratched) VG D Total payroll: $30.75 mil Team 4: 3 elite players 2 very good players 2 good players 16 depth players G-E-VG D-E-D D-D-D D-D-D (D and D scratched) VG-G D-D D-D (D scratched) E D Total payroll: $30.5 mil What does this mean? It means the end of elite teams in the NHL. No team would be able to keep more than 2 elite players and surround them with any kind of meaningful talent. Colorado would not have been able to keep Forsberg, Sakic, and Roy (or Blake, or Foote, or Hedjuk, etc.). Detroit would not have been able to keep Yzerman, Fedorov, and Lidstrom. Dallas would not have been able to keep Modano, Zubov, and Belfour. All teams would be mediocre, with a few stars sprinkled throughout. The NHL would become a neverending series of Islander-Oiler games (apologies to Isles and Oilers fans, but they are largely mediocre teams)--some talent on both sides, but really just a pair of average teams slogging it out. I don't know if that's the NHL I would want.