If we’ve learned anything from the Chicago Blackhawks, it’s that the salary cap can rip apart a successful team. So the recent news that the NHL salary cap could rise by as much as $3 million next season probably brought smiles to the faces of more than a few NHL general managers.
After all, $3 million is a lot of money. For many teams it’s the difference between re-signing a talented young player and letting that player walk. It could mean retaining more of your own homegrown talent, which is always a good thing. It could also mean bringing in a quality free agent to push your team to the next level.
But who will the potential salary cap boost help the most?
We’re using the always useful and informative Cap Geek for the team and player salary numbers here. We’re also not ranking these in any particular order, so the team listed first won’t necessarily see any additional benefit to a salary cap increase than the team listed fifth.
The Flyers have $57,585,823 committed in salary for next season. They have 18 players under contract for next year. They’ll likely need to sign seven additional players next year and, under the current salary cap of $59.4 million, they’d only have $1.7 million to do so. An extra $3 million would certainly help them out. The good news for Philadelphia is that they have their core locked up as well as their entire defense signed for next season.
New Jersey Devils
This is perhaps the most obvious entry on this list. The Devils have $50,788,332 in salary committed to next year and they only have 16 players signed. The current salary cap would give them only $8.6 million to sign nine players. The fact that Zach Parise could become a restricted free agent in July just makes things worse for New Jersey. Despite his injury this season, Parise will certainly command more than the $3,125,000 he’s making this year. The Devils also only have four defensemen signed for next season. The team’s performance this year has been brutal so far, so the Devils will likely need some shrewd moves from Lou Lamoriello if they hope to ice a more competitive team next year.
The Penguins have $51,133,333 committed in salaries for next year. The bad news is that salary is split between only 13 players. The Penguins will need to sign 12 more bodies to play alongside Crosby and Malkin next season and they’ll have limited funds to do so. While their defense and goaltenders are locked up for next season, only five forwards are under contract after this year. It looks like the Penguins will once again need to find some bargain basement forwards to fill out their line-up. Will that plan continue to cut it in Pittsburgh or have busts like Mike Comrie changed Ray Shero’s strategy? $3 million could definitely help the Pens.
The Blackhawks’ cap situation next year is not as bad as it once was, but it’s still not pretty. While they only have $42,385,503 committed next year, they also only have 10 players under contract. None of those players are goaltenders, which makes Chicago’s situation a bit worse. They’ll need to do a lot of signing in the offseason and some extra money to do so would definitely be nice.
The Calgary Flames have $56,265,833 committed to 17 players next year. At first glance it would look like they are doing okay cap-wise, but a look at the NHL standings will tell you otherwise. The Flames could comfortably ice a similar team next year to the one they did this year, but the result on the ice would likely be just as bad. An additional $3 million could help the team sign a quality player to improve their performance, or they could sign another Olli Jokinen. Both options seem equally likely at this point.