Folks, we’ve been talking about a flat salary cap for the NHL’s 32 teams for awhile, with the pandemic’s implosion of league revenues making it look like a flat $81.5 million cap until the players collectively pay back their escrow debt. Over at Daily Faceoff, our pal Frank Seravalli has reported that league revenues are looking like they’ll bounce back enough in the upcoming season that the cap might nudge up ever-so-slightly for 2022-23.
According to sources, the NHL is projecting hockey-related revenue in the $4.8 billion range for the upcoming 2021-22 season. Given that figure includes the increased revenue generated from the two new U.S. national television rights deals with the Walt Disney Company (ESPN) and Warner Media (Turner Sports), plus the juice from a new Kraken club that will almost surely be in the top quartile in revenue, that the NHL’s projection is still south of the pre-pandemic pace of $4.9 billion in 2019-20 would suggest that league bean counters believe some buildings will not be back to full capacity for at least a chunk of this upcoming season.
A rise to that level of revenue would result in a $1 million bump to the salary cap for 2022-23, up to a ceiling of $82.5 million, which could be great news for a Calgary Flames club with some big contracts to dole out starting in 2022-23.
The Flames have 10 players already with commitments for 2022-23:
- G Jacob Markstrom – $6 million
- G Dan Vladar – $750,000
- D Noah Hanifin – $4.95 million
- D Rasmus Andersson – $4.55 million
- D Chris Tanev – $4.5 million
- F Sean Monahan – $6.375 million
- F Mikael Backlund – $5.35 million
- F Milan Lucic – $5.25 million
- F Blake Coleman – $4.9 million
- F Elias Lindholm – $4.85 million
That’s $47.475 million committed, leaving $35.025 million available. For current restricted free agents (with deals starting in 2021-22), our friends at Evolving Hockey (subscribe!) are projecting about $2.032 million for Dillon Dube, $1.565 million for Juuso Valimaki and $2.892 million for Nikita Zadorov, all on multi-year deals. So factoring that trio in, that’s $53.964 million committed and $28.536 million remaining to re-sign (or replace) another nine players, including Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Johnny Gaudreau.
Evolving Hockey’s projections for Tkachuk, Mangiapane and Gaudreau, based on their current production, would be a combined $22.606 million – $9.728 million for Tkachuk, $4.493 million for Mangiapane and $8.385 million for Gaudreau, all on multi-year deals. If the projections are remotely close, that leaves just $5.93 million for the Flames to fill the rest of their roster with another six players. It’s not impossible but it’ll be a squeeze, but without the extra cap bump it would be nearly impossible.
Needless to say, the Flames have some decisions to make over the next year or so, but the slight rise in the salary cap will give them a little bit of wiggle room as they try to lock down three very important forwards to long-term deals starting in 2022-23.