Following the National Hockey League’s Board of Government meeting in California, it appears that the player’s salary cap will be on the rise again. With the current cap is at $64.3 million and moving into the second season of the latest agreement that was reached in collective bargaining, the expectation is that the cap will now increase to a whopping $71.1 million in 2014-14 based on a report from Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger, top TSN Hockey insiders. The figures are based on projections discussed in the Board meeting. Previously, during the 2012-13 season that was truncated due to the lockout, the cap was at $70.2 million.
The current salary floor obligates teams to layout a minimum average annual salary of $44 million over the length of a player’s contract and that is also expected to rise up to roughly $52 million.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com that these projections are only preliminary estimates but that the expectation will hit that range. He goes on to explain that this is a good thing because, with increased revenues, the rise in salary cap should not create any kind of issues.
Team management such as St. Louis Blues General Manager, Doug Armstrong, and Boston Bruins, GM, Peter Chiarelli have expressed a positive outlook on the potential increase describing the move as an indication of the health of the league and the sport after the recovery from the lockout. Both seem to believe that the raise reflects a good and healthy partnership between players and management that is good for business.
This change will also create a chance for the individual clubs to increase spending and in the larger markets, the additional flexibility will be a great boon. As Vancouver Canuck GM, Mike Gillis, states, “A projected number in that range just adds flexibility for us and adds the opportunity for us to spend that money wisely. And if we can do it wisely, then we look at it as opportunity.”
A higher floor may, however, create a bumpier road for the smaller market teams like the Winnipeg Jets or the Florida Panthers, although Jets Chairman, Mark Chipman, told the Canadian Press that they were confident they would easily ride it out stating, “”It doesn’t affect us. “There is a increasing tide and we are comfortable with how we rank in relation to our production of revenue.”
Others still such as David Poile, GM for the Nashville Predators, views the new cap and raised floor merely as a sign of the times. “I think that’s all good news,” he told reporters. “We have to move just like everyone else. There’s a lot of areas that are in the way that we have put this together. There is revenue sharing for teams like to ensure that it always works out.
Overall, most management representatives reached for comment share a consensus that the upward movement is good for business and a clear indicator of game growth and popularity, some attributing interest to some of the outdoor games that teams are playing. Although it appears to be accompanied by a greater cost, there is a bright path ahead for the future of hockey.