The National Hockey League (NHL) set the salary cap limit for the 2015-16 season to $71.4 million on June 23.
The National Hockey League (NHL) has set its salary cap for 2015-16 to $71.4 million.
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The league issued a press release regarding the matter on its official website on June 23:
"The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association today announced that the Team Payroll Range established for the 2015-16 League Year, pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, provides for a lower limit of $52.8 million, an adjustment midpoint of $61.2 million and an upper limit of $71.4 million."
According to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, last season's salary cap was set at $69 million. The $2.4 million increase was brought about by the five percent escalator clause. It was not as high as many predicted it to be.
The cap growth was stymied mainly due to lower revenues because of the Canadian dollar's lower value. LeBrun stresses it has been at par with the United States dollar for several years but has "hovered down around the $0.80 mark this past season."
The NHL's seven Canadian teams -- the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens -- contribute immensely to the league's overall revenue. The plummeting of their currency's value affected the league's cap growth for next season, per ESPN.
NHL, NHLPA announce salary cap of $71.4 million for next season. So as expected pretty much.— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) June 23, 2015
Despite the minimal salary-cap increase, some teams stand to benefit.
One of these is the recently-crowned 2015 NHL Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks, per NBC Chicago's James Neveau. As of June 23, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has committed $63.3 million to 13 players for next season.
Neveau singles out would-be free restricted agents such as Marcus Kruger and Brandon Saad. Even if Bowman locks them up to new, long-term contracts and signs several other players to minimum deals, it would not be enough to make the team as competitive as it was in 2014-15.
Because of the little wiggle room Chicago has, it may be forced to trade some of its key players such as Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell to comply with the new salary cap. Sharp has a $5.9 million cap hit while Bickell has a $4 million salary cap hit for 2015-16, per NBC Chicago.
Should both Sharp and Bickell be dealt, that would give the Blackhawks approximately $18 million in cap space. This would enable Bowman to sign 10 or 11 players, says Neveau.
Trading several key Blackhawks players seems inevitable at this point. As a matter of fact, NHL.com's Dan Rosen stresses this was what the team did in 2010 when it dealt players such as Dustin Byfuglien, Antti Niemi, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg, Adam Burish, Ben Eager and Brent Sopel because of salary cap constraints.
Despite the changes, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015.
Aside from possibly moving Sharp and Bickell, Rosen says Chicago will unlikely retain unrestricted free agents Brad Richards, Antoine Vermette, Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival. On the other hand, defenseman Kimmo Timonen will most likely retire.
Blackhawks team captain Jonathan Toews told Rosen on Tuesday during the NHL Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas although he expects the team to make wholesale changes, he's confident it will still be a force to be reckoned with in 2015-16:
"We're all pretty realistic about what might happen.
"All of a sudden it does feel a lot like 2010. It's imminent, and all of a sudden we kind of turn our outlet from the positive to the negative of everything. It's going to be tough for our team and tough for some of the guys knowing we might have to lose a few.
"We always seem to keep that identity and culture in the locker room that we know to expect from each other. Every team, every year is different. This is no different.
"Obviously it's unfortunate the high that we just experienced winning the Stanley Cup and all of a sudden having to shift our focus to something that doesn't make us feel so good as far as losing teammates.
"It's an unfortunate part of the game, but I think everyone grows and moves on from it."
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