The rich are about to get a whole lot richer. Or, better put; they’ll be able to spend more of their riches. According to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, the NHL’s Salary Cap may increase by three quarters of a Tyler Bozak this offseason.
Salary cap projection for next season as high as $74.5 million
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 8, 2015
The extra wiggle room greatly benefits the Leafs, who are already a pretty cost-effective team in the present. The team has roughly $6 million in cap space as it stands, and has a slew of expiring contracts coming up in Michael Grabner ($3 million), Shawn Matthias ($2.3M), Nick Spaling ($2.2M), PA Parenteau ($1.5M), Brad Boyes ($700k), Roman Polak ($2.75M), and James Reimer ($2.3M). As well, Carl Gunnarsson’s salary retention ($200k) comes off the books.
This combined $15 million or so, combined with the already available space and Nathan Horton’s LTIR exemption, give the Leafs a lot of room to work with next year. They do need to give Nazem Kadri ($4.1M) and Morgan Rielly ($894k) new deals, but outside of them and possibly Reimer if he continues, nobody’s really due for a raise. Those who are walked away from will likely be replaced by a slew of low-cost graduating rookies, like William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Connor Brown, and other potential candidates.
Having cap space to work with also allows for the Leafs to look into more moves that involve direct or indirect salary retention in the short term; Toronto will have two or three retention slots available in July, and they could always take on a Grabner or two if they feel that it will help them get some assets or shed some contracts.
The Salary Cap this year is $71.4 million, so the move would represent a $3.1 million spike. The NHL ties its cap ceiling to Hockey-Related Revenue, so the best way to ensure that it goes up is to invest your hard earned entertainment dollars into the game. So, while you complain about prices to get into the Air Canada Centre, the Leafs put a few extra bills into the Steven Stamkos fund. Should the Leafs continue to bottom out next year and stick to the floor, it’s estimated that the league’s barrier to entry will be around $58-60 million.