With the new NHL collective bargaining agreement keeping the $81.5 million salary cap team ceiling, general managers and free-agents and their representatives trying to get new deals are all going, “Uh, oh…this is not good.’”

As Brian Burke said Friday on Sportsnet as he talked about COVID-19 and teams looking at huge losses this upcoming season because they could be playing in empty or near-empty rinks for a long time, “We’re not dealing with a lunar landscape, we’re dealing with a Martian one and nobody has been there before.”

If you’re a GM, it’s like knowing you need the roof fixed and work on the bathroom and kitchen, but you only have so much money to spend. If you’re a player, it’s the realization that being a free-agent really means you’re not that free. Especially with every team well over 90 per cent of their cap space for next season eaten up already.

It’s certainly no different here, with the Edmonton Oilers’ cap hole compromised by the $2.5 million buyout of defenceman Andrej Sekera, the $1.33 million to winger Benoit Pouliot and the $750,000 the team has to pay on Milan Lucic’s contract. That’s almost $4.6 million in dead money with Sekera in Dallas, Lucic in Calgary, and Pouliot no longer playing, although he hasn’t officially retired.