Earlier this week, Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly spoke with the media about many different league topics. Perhaps the biggest news to come out of the press conference was Daly’s estimation of the salary cap for next season. Daly believes that the salary cap will fall somewhere between $78MM and $82MM, meaning that there will be a significant increase in the salary cap. The cap limit has increased by $2MM or less in each of the past three seasons, but the low point of the estimated range would already be a $3MM increase over the 2017-18 cap number. If it ends up near the top of the range, it will likely be the largest jump in the salary cap in league history.
Whatever the result, the cap increase will undoubtedly affect this off-season. Prior to Daly’s projection, teams like the Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, and Tampa Bay Lightning were going to face an immense cap crunch this summer and likely would have been forced to shed salary. Those teams can now breathe easier. However, teams on the lower end of the salary spectrum who don’t spend to the cap, such as the Carolina Hurricanes and Arizona Coyotes, will find it even harder to catch up in a market that that has lessened its grip on the stronger, higher payroll teams. With a higher cap comes salary inflation, which is another struggle for small market teams. The cap increase may also allow for some of the bigger talked-about trades and free agent movement – John Tavares, Erik Karlsson, Phil Kessel, ect. – to happen. However, the flip side is that a salary cap increase gives teams incentive to add, but not subtract and could lessen the amount of total trades we see this summer.
What do you think? Is this potentially historic increase in the salary cap ceiling a good thing for the league?