During a May 28 press conference prior to the start of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly projected the salary cap for 2018-19 could reach $80 million based solely on league revenue. If the NHL Players Association triggers its inflator clause, it could reach $82 million.
That means a potential rise of between $5 million to $7 million over the current $75-million cap ceiling. After several seasons of sluggish increases, this significant raise will create considerable cap room for the 31 NHL clubs.
The increase will certainly help teams with limited cap room, such as the Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins. It could also prompt some general managers, flush with extra cap dollars, into spending big on notable talent this summer via trades and free agency.m
Here’s a look at seven NHL teams that could be very active this summer.
It’s been a half-year of big changes in ownership, management and coaching staff for the Hurricanes. A roster shakeup could be next. While the Hurricanes could remain a budget team, new general manager Don Waddell will have to spend in order to reach what could be a $60-million cap minimum.
The Hurricanes have 13 players under contract for next season totaling a projected $47.6 million. Waddell is expected to re-sign young free agents such as Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm. A portion could also go toward adding a scoring center and a backup goaltender through trades or free-agent signings.
One year after finishing last in the league standings, the Colorado Avalanche clinched a playoff berth this season. Led by Hart Trophy finalist Nathan MacKinnon, the once sad-sack Avalanche have climbed back to respectability.
To stay that way, GM Joe Sakic must build upon this season’s surprising success. He has $52.1 million committed to 21 players with all his core talent under contract through next season. Sakic must boost his blueline, secondary scoring, and backup goaltending. Expect him to be busy this summer.
New Jersey Devils
Like the Avalanche, the Devils surprised most observers this season by reaching the playoffs. Having patiently built up the roster with young players via trades and the draft, GM Ray Shero could try to hasten his club’s improvement by adding a talented veteran or two.
The Devils have a projected $55.1 million tied up in 17 players. With perhaps $25 million at Shero’s disposal, he can afford to re-sign affordable restricted free agents such as Miles Wood and perhaps pending unrestricted free agent winger Patrick Maroon. He could also make a big splash in the trade or free-agent markets.
New York Islanders
With a projected $46.7 million invested in 13 players, the Islanders could have around $33 million in cap room. Over $11 million could go toward re-signing team captain John Tavares. Lamoriello would still have enough to re-sign other key players and attempt to bring in established talent who could provide an immediate boost to the roster.
New York Rangers
GM Jeff Gorton began rebuilding his roster prior to the February trade deadline. In addition to shipping out several veterans for draft picks, prospects, and affordable players, Gorton freed up considerable salary-cap space.
With just over $50 million invested in 13 players, Gorton could have around $30 million to re-sign young free agents such as Brady Skjei and Jimmy Vesey. If he wants to speed up his rebuild he could use that cap room to add one or two good, young veteran players.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Recently promoted GM Kyle Dubas takes over a projected cap payroll of $52.6 million committed to 16 players. If the cap ceiling reaches $82 million, he’ll have nearly $30 million to re-sign core players such as William Nylander and perhaps James van Riemsdyk, though the latter could depart via free agency on July 1.
Dubas must also ensure he leaves sufficient long-term cap room to re-sign young stars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Still, the prospect of signing a top free agent such as Tavares or Washington Capitals defenseman Carlson, or perhaps trading for a top-pairing defenseman, could prove tempting.
Vegas Golden Knights
GM George McPhee isn’t afraid to attempt bold moves to bolster his first-year club. Prior to this season’s trade deadline, he tried to pry away superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators.
The Golden Knights will enter the offseason carrying a projected $48.5 million tied up in 17 players, giving them perhaps around $31.5 million in cap room. If team owner Bill Foley is willing to spend big, there’s enough to re-sign key free agents such as James Neal and William Karlsson and to pursue a big-ticket unrestricted free agent like Tavares or Carlson.
Salary info via Cap Friendly.