Gary Bettman says the NHL’s salary cap is likely to rise by $1 million for 2023-24 season

Photo credit:Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 year ago
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman gave multiple updates in a “State of the Union” address ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday.
Among those updates was a note about the salary cap for the 2023-24 season. While there was some optimism earlier in the year that the cap ceiling could see a significant jump this summer, Bettman said it’ll likely be just a $1 million rise this time around.
The salary cap has largely stood pat over the past few years because of the expected revenues that were lost during the seasons that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The league lost the final quarter of its season in 2019-20, the playoffs were played inside of a bubble without any fans that summer, and the 2020-21 season was shrunk to 56 games with the seven Canadian teams playing in empty buildings.
Once the players pay back their debts to the owners from the pandemic, the salary cap will start to make larger year-by-year increases. It was set at $81.5 million for the 2019-20 season and remained stagnant for the following two seasons after that. In 2022-23, the cap jumped up by $1 million to $82.5 million and it’ll likely be set at $83.5 million for the 2023-24 season.
Bettman said back in March that the league was doing very well financially and that generating an additional $100 million in hockey-related revenue beyond the season’s current projections would result in a jump larger than $1 million for 2023-24. That didn’t happen, so a significant increase to the salary cap won’t come for at least another year.
The Edmonton Oilers have roughly $74 million committed to their roster for the 2023-24 season. Evan Bouchard, Klim Kostin, and Ryan McLeod are all restricted free agents in need of new contracts while unrestricted free agents Nick Bjugstad, Derek Ryan, and Mattias Janmark either need to be re-signed or replaced by somebody else.
Looking a little further down the road, the cap ceiling will surely be much higher when the Oilers need to sign star forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to new contracts. Draisaitl’s deal expires following the 2024-25 season and McDavid is one year behind him. The NHL currently estimates a jump to $87.5 million and then another jump to $92 million over the next two years.

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