NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly held media availability today from the board of governors meeting and updated several important issues. While noting that it will be an NHLPA decision on whether or not to participate in the Olympics, and reassuring that there is no issue with the Arizona Coyotes, perhaps the firmest news that Bettman could share was that of salary cap projections moving forward.
After announcing that hockey-related revenues will reach close to $5.2B for this season, the league will indeed increase the salary cap for next season by $1MM. That means an $82.5MM cap ceiling, the same number that was projected several months ago by Daily Faceoff.
Importantly though, Bettman explained that it will not take quite as long for the players to repay the escrow debt as originally expected. The league should be made whole at the end of the 2024-25 season, meaning a substantial salary cap increase could follow that summer. That’s a year earlier than many projections showed months ago, and speaks to just how well the revenues of the league have rebounded this season.
At the start of the year, the players owed more than $1B in escrow debt to the owners, and instead of all at once, have agreed to a slower repayment schedule. The escrow rate dropped this year from around 20 percent to 17 and is expected to drop to around 10 for the 2022-23 season.
For the teams that are in salary cap trouble at the moment, still trying to negotiate a ceiling that hasn’t moved in the last couple of years, a $1MM increase isn’t going to help very much. But the expectation of it spiking in 2025-26 is good news, especially for those that are trending toward a competitive window at that point.