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Speculating on next year’s potential salary cap

May 31, 2012, 8:15 PM EDT

Suter and Weber Getty Images

There’s been some debate on what the salary cap ceiling would be in the somewhat unlikely scenario that the new CBA won’t change the financial structure of the NHL. Bob McKenzie reports that the max would technically be $70.3 million based on league revenue if things went unchanged.

I used italics in the previous paragraph for a simple reason: whether it takes mere weeks or agonizing months, there will be a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The salary cap is just about certainly here to stay, yet the specifics could be quite different.

Free agent head-scratching

Either way, it sets up an interesting series of questions for general managers. James Mirtle points out the fact that an ambitious GM could exceed that situational cap by as much as 10 percent this summer, yet that would make things awfully complicated if the cap ceiling drops.

(Hopefully the NHL wouldn’t hand some shocking penalty to that hypothetical team like the NFL did to the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys in that league’s bizarre “uncapped” year.)

Perhaps the most important takeaway is that increased revenues mean that the salary cap is as high as the NHL and its players association will allow. How high exactly it will go obviously remains to be seen – hopefully in time for the 2012-13 season to being.

Hypothetical fun

Throwing out those fun-killing “it could all change completely” for a second, Cap Geek breaks down how much cap space each team would have at this moment if the ceiling indeed goes to $70.3 million.

For the fun of it, here are the five teams with the lowest amounts of would-be space:

5. Buffalo Sabres: $11.76 million in cap space (based on 19-player roster)
4. Boston Bruins: $11.27M (18)
3. Pittsburgh Penguins: $10.73M (18)
2. Philadelphia Flyers: $9.08M (20)
1. Chicago Blackhawks: $8.81M (22)

Conversely, here are the five teams that would have the most space remaining:

1. Colorado Avalanche: $46.84M (9)
2. Nashville Predators:: $38.15M (12)
3. Phoenix Coyotes: $35.44M (17)
4. St. Louis Blues: $34.04M (16)
5. Winnipeg Jets: $33.43M (14)

Interesting stuff, eh? If the Blues’ budget inflated – it’s not expected to, from most indications – they could take an even bigger leap forward. Feel free to imagine all kinds of outrageous free agent spending sprees in the comments, even if the new CBA would likely make many of those scenarios largely imaginary.

  1. jimw81 - May 31, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    It just proves Bettman and his ring of small market owners who control Bettman have zero argument from salary cap floor to revenue sharing. This CBA agrument is about power since NHLPA brought in fehr to stand up to these clowns. Fehr primary goal of all CBA is to give power back to players that was taken away from them from last two lockouts and bring back sanity back to NHL.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - May 31, 2012 at 11:26 PM

      Bring back sanity? Are you kidding me? The league has never been more healthy than it is today. The small market teams aren’t running the NHL because there is a floor and ceiling cap. Apparently that means the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills are running the NFL. League revenues and attendance has never been higher. This CBA has brought stability to teams in small markets. No more Detroit’s, Philadelphia’s, and Chicago’s pay outraous (relatively speaking) that small markets couldn’t compete with. That is why hockey will work in Winnipeg now. The CBA needs to be negotiated because it expires. The same one that was negotiated after the lost year. The fact that both the NFL and NBA players took small pay cuts in a bad economy where normal people like you, me, and 90% of the people who are reading this are either taking pay cuts or having benefits decreased.

      Only 1 person can ruin any part of next season, as much as everyone hates Gary Bettman, its not him. Donald Fehr is the one to worry about ladies and gents. After all he already caused season to be shortened (and a lost World Series) because he stuck his nose in their CBA. That sport is STILL trying to recover from the damage he did. He already alienated NHL markets in Winnipeg, Dallas, and Minnesota by not signing off the realignment that was suppose to happen for this upcoming season. Instead Winnipeg is going to have 12 of their divisional games in the geographical close cities of Sunrise, FL, Tampa Bay, FL, and Washington, DC instead of having the closet rival 430 miles away in Minnesota.

      I would like to think that the majority of the NHLPA, owners, and Gary Bettman all know they can’t afford to lose regular season games this time around. Do I expect a missed pre season game or two, yes. These guys can’t possibly be foolish to miss another season.

      • predswilrule - Jun 1, 2012 at 8:21 AM

        with fehr, count on missed games. im hopeful that the worst case is like the nba this season. he will ruin the momentum of the growth of hockey and likely cripple small markets. he will at least try. his makes bettmans ego look like a small spot on the sun.

  2. jimw81 - Jun 1, 2012 at 10:55 PM

    Fehr rejected the realignment because it was done without NHLPA consult and didn’t go through the proper channels. Plus realignment plan was a joke and DOA by major market teams owners. The only thing you have to do is move jets to west and bring one team over to east. What is really holding up realignment is coyotes.

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