As expected, the NHL salary cap will rise for the 2018-19 season, as commissioner Gary Bettman announced Wednesday, pending an agreement with the NHL Players’ Association.
As NHL capologists have feverishly calculated which teams will be able to make a play for this year’s top free agents (looking at you, John Carlson and John Tavares), there has been one essential element missing from the equation — the NHL salary cap figure for the 2018-19 season.
We knew almost certainly that the number would be rising from its current $75 million figure heading into next season, with some reports pegging the new total as high as $82 million.
Well, commissioner Gary Bettman announced Wednesday that, pending approval from the NHL Players’ Association, the cap will indeed go up for the 2018-19 season — and we have a really specific sum:
Of course, there’s a reason we’re getting into the weeds with the figures here — with some elements of the negotiation undecided, such as the players’ growth inflator, we don’t know for sure yet whether the final sum will be closer to $79.5 million or $80 million.
Last summer, the players voted for a 1.35 percent growth inflator.
Either way, now that we’re over $79 million, we have the cap’s largest single-season rise since 2013-14. The NHL’s revenue is on the rise (woo hoo!), so a corresponding ascension in the cap is normal.
The 2017-18 figure of $75 million was up $2 million from 2016-17 and $3.6 million from 2015-16.
Now that we have an almost-exact figure, get out those calculators and start crunchin’. The team expected to have the most cap space this offseason is the New York Islanders — and, wouldn’t you know it, they are also currently home to the player expected to be the summer’s biggest potential free-agent target in Tavares.
The Carolina Hurricanes and New York rangers are also expected to have plenty of room to maneuver, and the cap increase only helps their cause.