The New York Post’s Larry Brooks is reporting that the NHLPA will decline to use its 5% escalator clause for next season, meaning the NHL salary cap will remain around $73 million mark for 2017-18.
This could have a big effect on how the Caps approach re-signing their 11 free agents, especially 33-goal scorer TJ Oshie.
The expectation, affirmed in conversations within the past three days by essentially everyone on the NHL players’ side of the aisle, is that the union will decline to trigger the escalator for next season, thus creating a flat salary cap right around the current $73 million for 2017-18.
Well, not exactly. The NHLPA is not going to create the flat cap. The NHL will have done that by generating essentially no revenue growth over the past year. The players are picking their poison, choosing to go with a flat cap that restricts choices for free agents rather than creating a scenario under which escrow losses escalate.
This is bad news for the Capitals, who have many big-name young players due raises including Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Dmitry Orlov, and Nate Schmidt.
On May 30, Caps general manager Brian MacLellan admitted as such when he met with the media for his end of season press conference. MacLellan revealed that while the team would not make any big changes ahead of next season, the team would scuffle to bring back many of their big-name UFAs if the salary cap remained in the $73 million range.
“I don’t know that we’ll be at this level,” MacLellan said of the team during 2017-18. “We’ll be competitive. I’m not sure what happens.”
Oshie, who ended the 2016-17 season tied with Alex Ovechkin in goals, will arguably be the top free agent available on July 1, but has expressed a strong desire to return to Washington. While Sportsnet’s John Shannon said that a new deal between Oshie and the Capitals is “all but done,” MacLellan was much more dour about re-signing Oshie, especially if the cap does not rise.
“I like Oshie,” MacLellan said. “Of the UFAs, he’s a good fit. It’s going to depend on what the salary cap number is, plus what he’s looking for.”
MacLellan would go on to say that the two sides have not discussed anything “specific as far as term and money,” but believed the team had a good chance to re-sign Osh Babe if the NHLPA chooses to raise the cap. That appears now to be a pipe dream.
“As far as the unrestricted market, we happen to have all of the best UFAs available,” MacLellan said. “Oshie, Williams, Shattenkirk, and Alzner – those are the top free agents that are available out there. It will be interesting to see how that market evolves. We’ll probably be able to sign one of them, it would appear at this point, but we’ll see how that pans out.”
The Caps could get some much-needed salary cap relief if they choose to move Brooks Orpik, but MacLellan has said the team is not planning to buy out any of its players.
Also, MacLellan said he doesn't plan to buy out any players.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) May 30, 2017
Orpik played all of last season on the team’s third-pairing. He has two years remaining on his five-year, $37.5 million deal which pays him $5.5 million annually.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.