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NHL salary cap to rise in 2018-19

According to Pierre LeBrun, the NHL’s salary cap is going to increase next year.

LeBrun reports that the cap will, at the very minimum, increase from its current $75 million ceiling to $78 million next season, but it could rise as high as $82 million. The final salary cap number will ultimately be decided in June based on the negotiated inflator with the NHLPA.

This is obviously good news for the Oilers, who have Connor McDavid’s extension with a $12.5 million cap hit set to kick in next season. The Oilers have Patrick Maroon set to hit free agency, while Darnell Nurse, who’s enjoying a breakout season, needs a new contract as his entry-level deal is set to expire.

When the salary cap was implemented in 2005-06 after the full-season lockout, it was set at $39 million. By next year, that figure will have doubled. Also, if the league ultimately does let the cap rise to $82 million, the $7 million jump would be the biggest ever seen in the league. The closest would be the $6.3 million jump between 2006-07 and 2007-08.

That said, a jump to $82 million seems unlikely and it’s realistically going to end up somewhere in the middle. Though the early success of the Vegas Golden Knights has helped drive league revenue, spiking the salary cap by $7 million in one summer is something the owners are going to avoid.

Another thing to remember is that the current NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement has an opt-out clause in September 2019 that could result in a lockout for the 2020-21 season. While there are many factors at play, a rapidly escalating salary cap could potentially be an indication of another lockout on the horizon.