Report: NHL salary cap to rise by nearly $5M for 2011-12; floor elevated to $48M

...which, if true, means the Florida Panthers will be (as of Monday) $45M under the reported $64M cap, or - more importantly - over $30M below the salary cap floor.

What does this mean? For one, the lockout of 2004-05 was an increasingly pointless gesture; the cap max during the season following the lockout - a.k.a. Year One of the "New NHL's" most recent collective bargaining agreement - was $39M. That's an increase of 25 million U.S. dollars in six years. Read that again and look at your property tax bill next to the most recent appraisal of property you may own. Or against the rise in price of a gallon of milk over the past 12 months.

Secondly, what will the Cats do? This forces the club - in no uncertain terms - to take on insane salary from players meant to simply carry the mail for the next year or so until the organization's younger assets begin to bloom.

Essentially, 32-year old contract-year specialist Sergei Samsonov just became a $4M forward with the Panthers, should they choose to re-sign him and sign him they must. He's "only" worth a mill five - on any other team - after the paper is signed, but Florida has to hit an arbitrary floor, and his talents are far easier to justify than the devil we don't know.

On the blueline, GM Dale Tallon has few options to bulk up on dollars-spent, unless he willingly renegotiates, or injects maybe-legal-probably-not-legal-bonuses on every existing contract, simply because he's feeling generous (has to affect the salary cap, in any case). Keaton Ellerby's got to be beating his head against a wall; one earlier year on the ELC would have translated to riches beyond dreams of avarice in this coming season of absolutely necessary overspending.

Oh, and that affects everyone in the league, driving up salaries across the board, whether similar players have earned the raise or not. Going to be a wild week.

Well done, NHL. Parity achieved for about 24 days.