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NHL’s salary cap ceiling could rise to $83 million for 2019-20

The NHL is having its annual Board of Governor’s meeting this week and, as per tradition, we’ve been updated with a potential salary cap ceiling for next season. According to Pierre LeBrun, the NHL’s upper limit could rise from $79.5 million to $83 million for the 2019-20 season.

Of course, the actual salary cap won’t be agreed upon until June, the projection in December is generally fairly accurate. Last year, it was discussed at the BoG meetings that the cap would rise from $75 million to somewhere between $78 and $82 million and it ended up at $79.5 million.

Any increase in the cap is obviously a good thing for the Oilers. The team has found itself in a cap bind without very much wiggle room to add to the roster. As the cap continues to rise, Connor McDavid’s $12.5 million annual cap hit becomes even better value. $12.5 million would be just 15 percent of an $83 million salary cap, which is insanely good value for what McDavid brings to the table.

Another major piece of meeting at the BoG meeting is officially voting in the Seattle expansion team. It’s well known Seattle will be getting a team and this vote is simply a tap-in, but there are still questions to be answered. For example, Seattle may not have its arena ready for their goal of joining the NHL at the beginning of the 2020-21 season, so they may opt to push their start in the league back a year or two.

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Another looming issue that involves Seattle is a potential lockout. Again, already? Really?! Yep! The Collective Bargaining Agreement ends on Sept. 15, 2019 and if either the NHL or the NHLPA opt out, we could have a lockout for the 2020-21 season. That would be another reason why Seattle might want to postpone the birth of their franchise.

I’ve talked about this before, but a reason I imagine we’ll have another lockout in the short-term future is the 31 owners splitting Seattle’s $650-million expansion fee. The owners will be making a boatload of cash off Seattle’s expansion immediately which would compensate for any revenue lost during a lockout while they can grind the NHLPA (specifically, issues surrounding escrow and hockey-related revenue) to a deal that favours the owners more than the current CBA.

If we do get a lockout, though, we could end up with another batch of compliance buyouts, which would help the Oilers prior to the expansion draft. I guess that’s a silver lining?

  • OriginalPouzar

    Hi Cam. This line isn’t quite accurate “The Collective Bargaining Agreement ends on Sept. 15, 2019”.

    Technically the CBA ends on September 15, 2022 but both parties have the option to early terminate effective September 15, 2020 (notice needs to be given prior to September 1, 2019 (NHL termination) or September 15, 2019 (player termination) or early termination).

  • Oilfaninvan

    In the interest of complete fairness – I’d like to see is a salary cap that factors in the local taxes for each NHL city. It bothers me that cities like Tampa Bay can pay their stars less base salary because their take-home is more after taxes than in other markets.

    • Frank Rizza

      Before Aunt Tachel and uncle Justin took over, Alberta used to be right up there with lowest tax jurisdictions in North America. I believe it was Florida, Texas, Tennessee and then Alberta. I’m not sure where we are now but I think we’re around 15th. Just a note, Nevada would be right up to here too as the most tax friendly jurisdictions.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    Just a thought. And I ask this with an experience of Seattleites coming up and occupying my town every week-end (Whistler). Every year is the same. Each night in the Spring at the Sports Bars & Lounges we have the NHL playoffs on (duh)… And every year, in every Bar, some loud mouth (usually more than one) comes in and says, Hockey again? Can we watch the baseball game? You Canadians don’t watch baseball, it’s hockey all the time up here… Well I’m here to say that the Mariners average attendance in 2018 was 28,000, that’s a pathetic turnout for a contending team in a major league. They lost the Sonics to poor attendance as well.
    I hope they make a go of it, but my guess is that the nhl teams that are doing well, will have another team to bail out within 10 years…

  • Simba99

    Well 83-84 seems to be the ceiling that’s what the payrolls were the last time they striked so why not 2020. Keep going down the slippery slope with the stupid salaries and it could be a long strike this time

    • A strike and a lockout are not the same thing. A strike is when the players refuse to work. A lockout is when the owners prevent the players from working. 93-94, 05-06, and 12-13 were all lockouts, not strikes.

      Given that the salaries are pegged to the cap, and the cap is pegged to overall league revenue, complaining about “stupid salaries” is really just arguing that the owners, not the players, should be pocketing more of the revenue than the approximately 50% they already take.

      I don’t think payrolls in the NHL have ever averaged 83 million per team.

      So yeah, everything about this comment is wrong.

  • Soccer Steve

    This article would worry me but knowing that Peter Chiarelli is the one leading us into these murky waters makes me feel downright foolish for thinking this way!