The Toronto Maple Leafs have spent the past year and a half getting themselves into a comfortable salary cap situation, and from the looks of it, that may not have been the worst idea. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly spoke to the media today regarding the league’s player payment flexibility moving into next year, and it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be very much change.
Bill Daly said next year’s salary cap will be at $74 million with the escalator and flat without it.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) March 16, 2016
One would presume that the NHLPA will vote to trigger the cap escalator, which typically adds about 5%. Even in years of steady growth, the PA hs opened in, though they’ve become more hesitant in recent years.
The consequence of the escalator is that it puts more of the players money in escrow during the season, and if league revenues fall short of expectation, that money could disappear.But with the bulk of the league already so close to the cap ceiling as it is, it’s likely that players will take the escrow risk before they take the “might have to accept league minimum to play on a playoff team” risk.
A cap increase puts Toronto in prime position to lock up its restricted free agents and get a little aggressive come free agency. The team is projected to have $19 million in Cap Space heading into July 1st with Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly being the team’s only significant (restricted) free agents to re-sign. Add in what could potentially be another $10-11 million through LTIR relief (Robidas and Horton) and buyouts (Jared Cowen), and the Leafs have a real chance to be one of the league’s only big spenders next year, should they choose to do so.