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Rick Zamperin: Higher salary cap is good news for NHL teams, bad news for fans

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews reacts after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the second period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, March 3, 2020.
Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews reacts after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the second period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, March 3, 2020. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The National Hockey League‘s salary cap could increase to more than $88 million for the 2020-21 season, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are the team that could stand to benefit the most.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly broke the news at the conclusion of the general managers meeting on Wednesday in Florida, projecting next year’s cap to range between $84 million and $88.2 million.

The exact figure will be determined following negotiations with the NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA), but whatever the final number is, it will be greater than the current cap of $81.5 million.

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Increasing the cap by $2.5 million to $6.5 million provides a huge boost for those teams, such as the Leafs, who spend right up to the ceiling.

It would also enable Toronto to dish out a little more dough to help bolster the team’s Achilles heel its defence corps with all but 17 defencemen currently earning less than $6.5 million per season.

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The league and the players’ union are also negotiating a set schedule for the salary cap for future seasons, which would provide teams with a much clearer roadmap when negotiating with players.

With the Seattle franchise and its $650-million expansion fee coming on board in 2022, the NHL will be in a position to easily crack the $90-million salary cap plateau.

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No matter how you slice it, the NHLPA should be on board with a cap hike because a higher ceiling means more money for players.

The bad news is ticket prices to go watch an NHL game in person, especially in places like Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, are only going to get more expensive.

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