Back in December at the NHL’s annual Board of Governors meeting, it was speculated that the league’s salary cap ceiling could rise to as high as $83 million for the 2019-20 season. Earlier today, Darren Dreger reported that the cap ceiling could come below the original figure of $83 million and some teams are worried it could end up below $82 million.
NHL and NHLPA meeting today. Among topics, next years cap projection. Some believe the cap will be around $82 mil. A lower cap means lower escrow. Obviously, teams with cap issues were hoping it would be closer to $83 mil. Should be finalized this week.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 18, 2019
This is fairly similar to what happened last year. At the BoG meeting in 2017, it was speculated the 2018-19 cap would go up from the 2017-18 figure of $75 million to somewhere between $78 and $82 million and it ultimately ended up at $79.5 million. This is why it’s best for teams not to assume the salary cap will end up at the highest estimate. The jumps from year to year are quite sporadic.
Given the salary cap coming in slightly lower than expected, the Oilers will have even less wiggle room to navigate their tight cap situation this summer. The Oilers already have about $72 million committed to the cap next season, according to PuckPedia. The team has to deal with restricted free agents Jesse Puljujarvi, Jujhar Khaira, and Ty Rattie, add depth up front, and sign a backup goalie to play alongside Mikko Koskinen.
To me, it seems imperative that the Oilers deal one of their large contracts from the blueline. Kris Russell and Andrej Sekera are signed for two more years at $4 million and $5.5 million respectively. Dealing one of them would make it a lot easier to sign a solid 1B goalie and make some depth additions up front this summer.
I mean, we’re talking about a one or two percent variance in the expected salary cap ceiling here, so it isn’t the end of the world. Even if the ceiling ended up at the highest-anticipated upper limit suggested, moving one of those contracts from the blueline was an obvious play for the Oilers. The lower cap just highlights the importance of that kind of move for adding to other areas of need.