BOSTON — NHL general managers with teams close to the salary cap could be in for a real challenge when trying to re-sign their own players and acquire others from the free-agent market next summer.
According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun and Larry Brooks of the New York Post, it’s possible the salary cap will not increase to the level expected for the 2015-16 season. In fact, it’s possible the cap ceiling might rise just a little bit, or not at all.
“With the (Canadian) dollar hovering around 90 cents U.S., the revenues may not be nearly as much as was projected this season and that means the salary cap could only rise slightly, stay status quo or, heaven forbid, fall below the $69.3 million threshold it’s at this season,” Garrioch wrote Saturday. “The latter doesn’t seem probable.”
There were two main reasons why the cap was expected to increase, the primary one being the $5.2 billion television rights deal the league signed with Rogers Sportsnet last year. The other reason is that league revenue has increased at a nice rate since the 2004-05 lockout, reaching about $3.7 billion during the 2013-14 campaign.
A struggling Canadian dollar affects the chances of the salary cap increasing because the cap is tied to hockey-related revenue (HRR) — the more HRR, the higher the cap. Canadian teams earn revenue in Canadian dollars, obviously, but player salaries are paid in U.S. dollars. A weak Canadian dollar was an issue during the mid-1990s, and it was one of the factors behind franchises such as the Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets relocating to the United States.
How would the Boston Bruins be affected by the salary cap not increasing much for 2015-16?
Well, B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli would have some tough decisions to make. Boston has 12 players eligible for unrestricted or restricted free agency (six each) on July 1.
The notable UFAs are Carl Soderberg and Adam McQuaid. The RFA list is longer and includes several important players. Defensemen Dougie Hamilton, David Warsofsky and Torey Krug, along with forwards Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser are the five-best RFAs on the horizon. Hamilton, Smith and Krug, in particular, could be in line for huge raises.
The Bruins have $56.4 million of the cap tied up in 14 players for next season, per CapGeek, which could leave them with less than $15 million to re-sign their own free agents if the ceiling doesn’t rise much for 2015-16.
The Chicago Blackhawks might be in even more trouble because the matching eight-year, $84 million extensions signed by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane begin next season. It’s been speculated that top-six forward Patrick Sharp could be traded at some point to help alleviate some of Chicago’s cap issues. His contract, which carries a $5.9 million cap hit, expires after the 2016-17 season.
We are many months away from knowing the official salary cap figures for 2015-16, but this story still is one worth watching through the end of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs.
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