NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly held their annual pre-Stanley Cup press conference on Saturday. One of the major topics the two men were asked to discuss is the state of the league’s salary cap.
Bettman shot down any sort of idea that the cap would be increasing for the 2023-24 season more than the $1 million that was projected at the general manager meetings last March. That comes despite reports that the NHLPA may be able to negotiate for more room if they agreed to an expanded 84-game schedule.
The news of the small cap boost comes after Bettman and Daly revealed that league revenue should reach $6 billion this season. Bettman added that a larger increase is expected to come in the summer of 2024 as the players finish paying back the $1.1 billion escrow debt they amassed from the pandemic years.
Allan Walsh, one of the most vocal NHL player agents, says that by the end of this season, that debt balance will be down to $70 million. The constantly referenced “escrow” is basically a certain percentage of money that is held off the players’ paychecks and held until the NHL knows what their full revenue is for the year.
The NHL had a flat cap of $81.5 million from 2020-22 due to the pandemic. That increased to $82.5 million this past season and is expected to jump again to $83.5 million next season.
A small $1 jump is better than nothing for a lot of teams but it could restrict teams from buying out certain player contracts and will majorly impact potential extension negotiations for multiple star players.
For example, Toronto’s Auston Matthews and William Nylander, Carolina’s Sebastian Aho, Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel, and Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck will be eligible to start negotiating an extension this summer but could choose to wait things out for even bigger raises with a major cap increase on the horizon.
Screenshot via NHL/YouTube
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