Gary Bettman on 2023-24 salary cap: ‘The cap will go up by $1 million, give or take’

Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
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The salary cap ceiling for the upcoming 2023-24 season has been a subject of a lot of debate in recent months. During his annual pre-Stanley Cup Final media address on Saturday, National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman provided an update on the league’s expectations for the cap number: it’s probably only going up by $1 million.
“Based on our current projections, there’ll still be some escrow, and that means that the cap will go up by a million dollars, give or take,” said Bettman.
Generally-speaking, here’s how the NHL’s annual cap calculations work: under the terms of the CBA, the players are entitled to half of league revenues. So every year, the NHL and NHLPA work together on revenue projections for the following season. The agreed-upon number is cut in half (to get the players’ 50% share) and divided by the number of teams to provide the cap ceiling. A holdback of player salaries – the “escrow” amount – is used to ensure that the players don’t receive more than 50% of revenues.
However, the pandemic and its impacts on league operations – truncated 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons and assorted other impacts – led to the players receiving more than $1 billion more in salaries than the 50/50 share would provide. So over the past few seasons, the cap has only been inching up little by little as the escrow debt has been paid off.
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In December, Bettman pegged the remaining escrow debt to be “approximately $70 million.” However, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli has noted that the NHLPA has several outstanding HRR (hockey-related revenue) claims that exceed $100 million, so perhaps there’s a mechanism for the cap to inch up more than the amount Bettman indicated. (Given that the cap number has to be agreed-upon by the NHL and the NHLPA, Bettman’s comments could be construed as a negotiating tactic with new NHLPA head Marty Walsh.)
Bettman was more optimistic about cap growth in following seasons, with it being mentioned during the press conference that HRR is approaching $6 billion. If HRR reached $6 billion, the player’s share would be $3 billion and the cap ceiling, based on the general formula being used, would be $93.75 million.
The cap ceiling for 2022-23 was $82.5 million. The cap ceiling for 2023-24 is expected to be announced following the general managers’ meeting on June 27 in Nashville.

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