While some fans around the NHL aren't happy with the Vegas Golden Knights’ rapid success, they might have a reason to curb their jealousy, since it sounds like the Knights are going to help the NHL salary cap rise to a new high next season.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly announced on Monday before Game 1 the NHL salary cap’s upper limit is projected to rise to somewhere between $78 and $82 million next season.
The NHL is projecting a salary cap between $78M and $82M for next season.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 28, 2018
Bill Daly says the current projection for the salary cap is around $80 million, up $5 million from this season; however the NHL still needs to negotiate the growth factor with the NHLPA later in June so there's no hard number quite yet.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 28, 2018
According to TSN’s Frank Seravalli, a big reason for the largest salary cap increase since 2014 is the Golden Knights and the revenue they’ve generated for the league.
The Knights provided each of the NHL’s other 30 teams with a $16 million expansion fee check when they joined the league, but it’s the revenue the Knights have generated through jersey sales, licensed merchandise, attendance, gate revenue and more that is making an impact on league-wide revenue, which in turn is having an impact on the salary cap.
Although there is no concrete cap number yet, the projected spike does bode well for Vegas this offseason. The Knights already have $24.8 million in projected cap space, according to Cap Friendly, but that number could increase to anywhere from $27.8 million to $31.8 million, depending on where the cap number settles at.
That’s a lot of dinero for general manager George McPhee to potentially spend. Of course, some of that money will likely go to players on the roster who are set to become unrestricted free agents, like James Neal and David Perron, and some of it will also go to players on the roster who are restricted free agents, like William Karlsson and Shea Theodore.
Despite those players, though, McPhee should still have plenty left over to go out and splurge in free agency if he wants too. It’s not the greatest class of free agents ever, but I heard that John Tavares guy is pretty good. Although I think Lou Lamoriello now running the ship on Long Island might persuade JT to stay with the Isles.
Or, McPhee could possibly rekindle talks with Ottawa and take another run at Erik Karlsson. Or, he could make a big offer to Washington Capitals UFA-to-be defensemen, John Carlson. Again, there are many different scenarios for McPhee to sort through.
What matters now, though, is the salary cap is expected to increase next season and the Golden Knights are not only beneficiaries, but the catalysts as well.