The NHL and NHLPA have made it official, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the NHL salary cap for 2019-20 will be $81.5MM, as many had recently projected with the salary floor being set at $60.2MM.
That isn’t good news for teams that are at or near the cap as many teams had hoped that the cap might be closer to $83MM like it was projected several weeks ago. However, recently rumors had been rumbling that the number would be closer to $82MM and potentially as low as $81.5MM, which is what it ended up being, which is a worst-case scenario for teams hoping for that extra space to maneuver.
That could prompt more teams that need to open up cap space to make cost-cutting moves. The league has seen some of that already today with the Nashville Predators unloading the $9MM contract of defenseman P.K. Subban in order to free up space to extend defenseman Roman Josi and potentially sign a free-agent center such as Matt Duchene in the coming week. The Toronto Maple Leafs sent a future first-rounder to Carolina also today in order to unload the final year of Patrick Marleau and his $6.25MM contract. The Tampa Bay Lightning also unloaded J.T. Miller’s $5.25MM contract that still has four more years on it for a future first-rounder as well. Other teams that are in trouble and could be making similar cap-saving moves include the Vegas Golden Knights, San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.
The announcement, however, could be big news for teams with plenty of cap space to sell. The Devils acquired a top-four defenseman for a very little return, while Vancouver added a top-six forward in Miller. There are six teams underneath the ceiling of $60.2MM, including the Philadelphia Flyers, Winnipeg Jets, New Jersey Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators and the Colorado Avalanche. Several of those team have significant free agents to sign, however, including Winnipeg, Philadelphia and Colorado, but there are many teams that could take advantage, now more than ever, of some of the teams who have already capped themselves out. In fact, Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was thrilled at the cap number.
“It doesn’t affect us. I like it,” Kekalainen said (via NHL.com’s Dan Rosen). “It’s going to squeeze some teams some more. … They’re going to have to solve their problems and maybe we can be a solution.”