NHL salary cap rises, but high enough for Blackhawks?

 

The NHL and the NHLPA announced over the weekend that the salary cap will rise to $75 million next season, or nearly double what the salary cap was after the 2005-06 lockout ($39 million) when the NHL’s owners were crying poverty and needed to cancel a season to keep their grubby little fingers from overspending on contracts any longer.

Where were we?

Ah, yes, the salary cap in 2017-18.

Here are the specifics:

The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association today announced that the Team Payroll Range established for the 2017-18 League Year, pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, provides for a Lower Limit of $55.4 million, an Adjusted Midpoint of $65.2 million and an Upper Limit of $75 million.

There was talk that the cap would be flat year-to-year, but the NHLPA opted to inflate it to $75 million. That means a $55.4 million floor, of course, so the Arizona Coyotes better find some more injured guys to make sure they hit that target. We hear the New Jersey Devils have a slightly used Ryane Clowe but, alas, they’ll need that money to hit the floor themselves.

With the ceiling at $75 million, there are a couple of teams worth keeping an eye on. Well, OK, basically just one team: The Chicago Blackhawks, who are actually still over the cap despite the increase.

According to Cap Friendly, the Hawks are $2.521 million over the cap. That’s with 37 contracts on their books.

From CSN Chicago and Tracey Myers:

If the possibility of Marcus Kruger going to the Vegas Golden Knights comes to fruition, the Blackhawks would shed his $3.08 million cap hit. That wouldn’t leave much wiggle room for a team that’s still needing, among other things, a backup goaltender. The Blackhawks have a few things to figure out over the next few weeks.

On Sunday we found out who they’re going to protect and who they’ll expose; Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk were in the latter group, as expected. On Friday the Blackhawks will be hosting the NHL Draft, where they’ll make some decisions on their future. But it’s another offseason in which the Blackhawks’ have a money problem, and the small cap increase doesn’t alleviate that.

TSN reported that both players could end up with the Golden Knights; TVR only makes $825,000 next season ahead of an RFA increase in 2018-19.

A backup goalie could come in fairly cheap. Among the options on the UFA market: Mike Condon, Peter Budaj, Jhonas Enroth, J-F Berube and Darcy Kuemper. But one imagines the Blackhawks will take a gander at who floats over to the Golden Knights in the expansion draft.

The blueline will be interesting, though, if TVR is sent to Vegas. The Blackhawks have Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Michal Kempny, Michal Roszival and Gustav Forsling under contract, with Johnny Oduya and Brian Campbell gone UFA. One assumes that defense is where GM Stan Bowman might look to land someone significant in the offseason – it’s just a matter of how the economics work.

(We still think doing the Brad Richards thing with a bought-out Dan Girardi isn’t out of the question.)

The new cap ceiling is, at the very least, a little more breathing room.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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