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NHL salary cap projected to rise at least $3M in 2018-19

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According to projections the NHL shared at the Board of Governors meeting on Friday, the salary cap is expected to increase by at least $3 million for the 2018-19 season.

“The league has never been healthier,” said Commissioner Gary Bettman. “The game has never been healthier. Our franchises have never been healthier.”

Currently at $75 million, if the Players’ Association chooses to use an inflator the ceiling could rise as high as $82 million. The jump to $78 million would mark the biggest rise since a $4.7 million increase for the 2014-15 season.

That would be music to the ears of a handful of NHL teams who are near the current ceiling, allowing them some extra room to maneuver for their off-season spending. It would also help teams like the Chicago Blackhawks ($66M), Los Angeles Kings ($66M), and Nashville Predators ($65M), who are already committed to at least $65 million in salary for next season, per CapFriendly. Then you have the Vegas Golden Knights, who are sitting pretty at $34 million tied up for 2018-19. You wonder how general manager George McPhee will go about using his spending space to build off their inaugural season.

The ability for the ceiling to rise by a minimum of $3 million is due to another increase in league revenues, which Bettman said is projected to hit around $4.85 billion this season, while hockey-related revenues are expected to reach $4.54 billion, an increase of 8.2 percent.

We’ve come a long way from a $39 million ceiling all the way back in 2005-06.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Bettman says falling Canadian dollar won’t drastically impact the salary cap

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As the Canadian dollar continues to tumble, it’s currently hovering around $0.80 USD, the NHL says it will not have a significant impact on the salary cap for next season.

According to Commissioner Gary Bettman, the Canadian dollar will not cause the salary cap “to fall off a cliff”. During his press conference Saturday, Bettman said the league took into account the falling Canadian dollar for its latest cap projections presented to NHL teams at Saturday morning’s board of governor’s meeting.

For example, should the Canadian dollar continue to trade around $0.80 USD, next season’s salary cap ceiling would be $71.6 million. If the Canadian dollar is at $0.82 USD, the cap ceiling would be $72.2 million.

By comparison the cap ceiling this season is at $69 million.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly clarified that the figures presented includes the NHLPA’s five percent escalator.

“The CBA actually contemplates the five percent as standard,” said Daly. “I don’t anticipate that’s going to be an issue. Because I think the players’ association wants to make sure where the cap goes as well because it’s in their interest to do it. I don’t anticipate any issue on the five percent inflator.”

The NHL’s December projections had the salary cap for next season at $73 million so today’s news isn’t that alarming. That will change of course if the Canadian dollar continues to slide.

Report: Salary cap could rise to $80 million in four years

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There’s good news for players whose contracts are expiring in the near future. The salary cap could be sky-high in just a few years.

CBC’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto yesterday (via The Score) that some NHL insiders believe the salary cap could rise as high as $80 million in just four years. The cap this season is set at $64.3 million.

The cap going up isn’t a surprise but the possibility of seeing it rise as much as $16 million in just four seasons is something many teams may not be prepared for. Last season, teams got to spend up to just over $70 million but had to come back down this year.

The cap is expected to rise again next season which could (is?) making negotiations with potential future free agents awkward.

Take a look at the New York Rangers who have Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, and Dan Girardi as potential unrestricted free agents next summer. GM Dave Nonis could be in a bind as well with the Toronto Maple Leafs as both Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf can hit the market as well.

General managers may have to sit tight and wait to see how high it could be before really opening their owners’ wallets.

Report: NHL comes off $60 million cap for 2013-14

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Progress is apparently being made in New York City between the NHL and NHLPA.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports the NHL has come off their demand to have a $60 million salary cap for the 2013-14 season. The $60 million cap for next season had been one of the NHL’s big sticking points in the latest round of negotiations as the players would like to see it a bit higher, around $65 million.

One of the catches for the players’ association should the cap jump up is, as James Mirtle of The Globe And Mail details, an increase in escrow payments. You could consider this development all a part of doing actual bargaining.

Rangers to put Staal on LTIR, gain cap space

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Interesting bit of news from the New York Post’s Larry Brooks about some salary cap finagling in the Big Apple. According to Brooks, the Rangers have a series of moves in place to gain an additional $3.975 million of cap space — by putting assistant captain Marc Staal on Long Term Injury Reserve.

It’s believed once the Rangers make the necessary moves to come as close to possible to the cap — including the potential recall of Mats Zuccarello from the AHL Whale in the aftermath of the groin injury suffered by Wojtek Wolski in the first period of last night’s 2-1 shootout victory over the Ducks — they will then sign and register the contract of free-agent defenseman Anton Stralman, who has agreed to terms on a one-year deal worth $900,000.

Once that’s all done, New York will reportedly put Staal on LTIR (which he already qualifies for, having been sidelined for at least 10 games and/or 24 days.) The key for the Rangers is getting as close to the $64.3-million cap as possible before putting Staal on LTIR, because they can only gain the difference between Staal’s cap hit and the amount of cap space available at the time he goes on. Isn’t the CBA fun?

Brooks also notes that Staal’s been plagued by headaches since suffering a concussion on Feb. 22 and that head coach John Tortorella says his status remains unchanged.

So without getting too far ahead of ourselves, let’s drum up a trade rumor!

Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter (an impending UFA) is making $3.5-million this season. With the Preds breaking the bank to extend Pekka Rinne (likely putting Shea Weber next on the “to do” list), Suter could be made available. His agent, Neil Sheehy, will resume contract talks with Preds GM David Poile in the coming weeks, but note what ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun wrote today:

“If the Preds don’t have Suter locked up as the Feb. 27 trade deadline approaches, Poile will have a mighty difficult decision to make. He didn’t move pending UFA Dan Hamhuis a few years back and saw him walk away to Vancouver in the summer. If the Preds aren’t in a playoff spot Feb 27, it’s a no-brainer: You move Suter and maximize his asset value.”

Potential hiccups:

1) Poile’s made it clear he wants to keep Rinne, Weber and Suter.

2) Even if Nashville can’t get Suter signed, they might be in a playoff spot/no position to trade him.

3) LeBrun suggests Suter could be looking for “at least $6.5 million” on a new deal, which could be way out of New York’s wheelhouse (the Rangers will already have three players making $6.5-million-plus next year: Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards and Henrik Lundqvist.)

4) New York might not even want Suter.

5) This may be based entirely on the fact I really like Suter and would want him on my team.

So there definitely are issues with what’s proposed above.

But hey, it’s always fun to speculate.