At the board of governors meeting today, the league shared projections for next season’s salary cap. According to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, that number is set to fall between $78-82MM depending on how the NHLPA uses their escalators. That’s an increase from this year’s $75MM ceiling, giving teams a little extra room in the budget for free agents and contract extensions.
The cap is based on projections of Hockey Related Revenue, a number that does not (and will not) include expansion fees. Those funds are given directly to the owners, and don’t necessarily filter down to the players. Still, it means that overall numbers are up for the league through inflation and growth, and will allow teams to spend a little more next season on their players.
It doesn’t necessarily mean every team will. There are currently eight teams with more than $10MM in cap room, including the Carolina Hurricanes and Arizona Coyotes, who have a combined $50MM in space. They, and others like them, will likely be closer to the salary cap floor once again next year, even with the new ownership in Raleigh.
Amazingly, there are also clubs like the Montreal Canadiens who usually don’t have trouble spending right to the cap but currently sit with over $9MM. While some teams like Toronto, Detroit and Chicago struggle to keep their rosters under the upper limit, Montreal has decided to keep quite a bit of room—perhaps for an offseason free agent pursuit?
The increasing cap will improve player salaries, but it will also make previous deals look more and more reasonable. Even Connor McDavid’s eight-year, $100MM extension could be surpassed by several players, as the maximum contract at an $80MM cap would be $16MM per season. John Tavares, Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson and others could all push to be the highest paid player in the league over the next few years.