Per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the NHL has been informing and preparing teams for a sharp salary cap increase over the next three seasons. If it holds true, it’s a landmark point financially in the league’s post-COVID operations and continued growth.
According to Friedman’s reporting, the salary cap will still increase its projected $1MM incremental climb in 2023-24, setting next year’s cap at $83.5MM. However, while original projections labelled a big salary cap jump coming in the 2025 offseason, later reporting, now fortified by Friedman’s report, signifies that a notable jump will likely come a year earlier. The 2024-25 salary cap will be reportedly set around the $87.5-$88MM mark, while the 2025-26 salary cap would be set around $92MM.
The roughly $4MM salary cap Upper Limit increase per season is much more in line with the league’s pre-COVID growth, if not more. The cap rose anywhere between $2MM and $4MM per season between 2015-16 and 2019-20, but now with two additional teams bringing in revenue, it makes sense that the figures would climb a bit more dramatically.
The sharper nature of the increase also looks a lot of recently signed long-term extensions look a lot smarter. Take Nathan MacKinnon’s eight-year extension, for example. While his $12.6MM cap hit will be worth roughly 15% of the team’s total cap space in 2023-24, that percentage will drop to around 13.7% in a $92MM-cap world for 2025-26. The percentage will only continue to decrease from that point onward.
Now, extend that $4MM-per-season growth over the life of MacKinnon’s contract. The salary cap would be $112MM in 2030-31, the final year of his deal, where the contract would be worth just 11.25% of the team’s total cap. That’s equivalent to a roughly $9.25MM cap hit in 2022-23.
Suffice it to say, it’s great news for both teams and players if the reported projections indeed hold true.