Unsurprisingly, the NHL’s hard cap is projected to climb again after this season, hitting $83-million. At least that’s the word from the league’s annual board of governor’s meetings, which are happening this week.
BOG meeting now underway here in Sea Island, Georgia. Part of agenda today is a salary cap projection/range from the league. The cap projection is around $83M for next season, up from $79.5M. That’s an estimate because the league needs to negotiate final number with NHLPA in June
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 3, 2018
As noted by Lebrun, the NHLPA still has to factor in here and get this number to climb, but as we’ve seen in years past, these early estimates are usually very close to on the money.
So, how does this $3.5-million increase affect the Leafs?
For a team that just inked a big contract for one its core pieces over the weekend, and now looking at having to potentially do some maneuvering to get things tidied away with upcoming contracts for Kapanen, Marner, Matthews, and perhaps even Gardiner (if they decide not to walk away), it means a lot. If we look at the contract Nylander signed just a couple days ago, using this year’s cap number his $6.92-million AAV accounts for 8.7% of the upper limit. Next year that same hit will take up 8.3%, and an 8.7% figure would then shift to $7.22-million.
We expect the contracts for Marner and Matthews to add up somewhere around $20-million annually, so this little boost in the cap will provide Dubas with some more room to operate. Compared to past seasons, the $3.5-million growth is just a shade below the $4.5-million the cap came up this past summer, but is better than the increase of just $2-million in 2017.