As many of the league’s bright young stars convened today at the Lifeguard Arena in Henderson, Nevada for the North American Player Media Tour, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly had a chance to meet with the media to discuss a wide range of topics relevant to the league. Daly touched on a recent wave of women being hired and promoted into upper-level management roles with NHL teams, the promising overall start to the Seattle Kraken franchise, the youth movement of NHL teams, the Arizona Coyotes arena situation, and the league’s revenue.
There’s been much speculation around the league’s revenue projections and what it could mean for a significant raise to the salary cap ceiling moving forward. Given the agreement between players and team owners to split revenue 50/50, revenue being naturally down due to the impact of COVID-19, and the players need to pay the difference back in escrow, the salary cap has had to remain relatively flat the past few seasons. The expectation has been that the cap will rise by $1MM next offseason before seeing a meaningful increase ahead of the 2024-25 season, with some speculation that it could happen even sooner. Much of that was confirmed by Daly, who reported a league-record in revenue for this past season, the first time its surpassed $5BN. With the unprecedented revenue last season, one which was still impacted by COVID-19, Daly said that if they see the same kind of excess revenue this season, the timeline for a significant cap increase could come sooner than expected. Ultimately, Daly still believes that based on their current projections for 2022-23, that increase may have to wait another year.
- Also from Daly’s availability, the Deputy Commissioner was optimistic about the state of the Arizona Coyotes and their short and long-term arena plans. Daly cited the Tempe City Council’s approval of their proposed arena plan in the city, which does still need further approval, as a positive. He also referenced the positive impact playing in an arena of that size could have on the players, expecting it to be filled nightly, thus enhancing the atmosphere, as well as the relative success of this strategy with the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers and their brief stint in an MLS stadium while their current stadium was being built. Finally, when asked about the duration the team might have to spend playing at Arizona State University, Daly said the worst case scenario appears to be three years, while the best case would be two. No matter which way you frame it, this situation is surely difficult and awkward for the team and the league, however seeing the silver linings laid out does give the team some hope as it rebuilds not only on the ice, but off of it too. Final approval on a new arena plan and setting it into motion would be the best possible outcome for the organization, and when it happens, it could certainly have major, immediate impacts on the team and fanbase.
- As prospect games got underway today, including one contest between the Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens featuring prospect Filip Mesar, The Athletic’s Arpon Basu provided an update on Montreal’s plans for Mesar for the upcoming season. Basu reports the team isn’t sure if they would like Mesar to play with the Laval Rocket, their AHL affiliate, or with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL, who hold Mesar’s rights. However, it appears clear Mesar will not be returning Europe for the upcoming season. The 26th overall selection from this year’s NHL draft, Mesar played the last two years for Poprad in his native Slovakia, recording 30 points in 73 games over the two campaigns. The decision not to keep Mesar in Europe makes sense, given the need to help him adjust to North American ice and its style of hockey. Deciding between the AHL and OHL could be tough, as the OHL won’t give Mesar opportunities to play against older and more experienced competition, but will give him experience as a top of the lineup player, like Montreal hopes he will be. The AHL will give Mesar a taste of what playing in the NHL will be like in some respects, but may be a bit too advanced for him to see the top of the lineup and thrive like he might in Kitchener.