The whirlwind of activity in this NHL off-season has already started to swirl and we're probably going to hit tornado speeds here soon. It will just need to add this low pressure system of the salary cap ceiling number to throw it into high gear and then everyone will be up in the air, especially the Vegas Golden Knights.
As we headed into the Stanley Cup Finals, there were rumblings that the league was good to go on standing pat on the salary cap number and it would then be up to the players union, whether or not they would invoke their own inflator, which they have up to 5%. The morning of Game 6 of the finals, the reports were coming out that the players would opt not to add anything to the salary cap ceiling and that the number would be around the $73 million mark again for the 2018 season.
Of course, that was far from the end of the road, as the NHLPA voted on roughly a 2.5% increase over the weekend, raising the salary cap ceiling to $75 million, which also increases the cap floor to $55.4 million for the 2018 season. The announcement came on Sunday afternoon, which now gives NHL general managers the target to get above or more likely, below, for the current season.
There is still a bit of math yet to be done to close off the books to the 2017 NHL regular season, which will certainly impact a number of teams in the 2018 season, like bonuses from entry-level and 35+ contracts, to which a team like the Blackhawks will certainly suffer from.
Today, you could dress a 23-man roster for Chicago for under the $75 million cap ceiling, but their ceiling will come down by a few million bucks, according to CapFriendly, thanks to bonuses to a guy like Artemi Panarin, who finished his entry-level deal. The final numbers will likely drop in the next week or so, but it doesn't look good for the Blackhawks.
Teams like the Red Wings and the Islanders are already planning on how to use their Long Term Injured Reserve help, as they have players like Johan Franzen and Mikhail Grabovski, respectively, who have been injured for some time and were also exempt from the expansion draft, because of their injury. Both teams have projected rosters, with their injuries included, nicely nestled up to the cap ceiling, but they should get that added relief with the right paperwork filed.
And then we have the cap floor, which will require some work from the Coyotes and the Hurricanes to reach, even with a 23-man projected roster under their belts. The Coyotes, if they are not planning on being competitive again this year, can take on a number of bad contracts for assets, as their glacial build continues, while the Hurricanes will have some work to do of their own, but they are making strides in the right direction.
Now that we've seen the numbers, we can speculate all we like about how it will all go down, but only time will tell. Let the games begin!