The salary-cap rise will produce interesting changes
Posted: Friday December 16, 2005 3:52PM; Updated: Friday December 16, 2005 3:53PM
Zdeno Chara should benefit from the rise of the cap.
Charles Laberge/Getty Images
Those men you see smiling broadly this morning?
They're the agents for players like Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov, Rob Blake and Joe Sakic, Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara.
And they're the men who'll be shopping those players this summer to NHL GMs who might have as much as an extra $6 million burning holes in their pockets.
The big news emanating yesterday from the NHL's Board of Governors meeting in Scottsdale was that league revenues were trending well above expectations. As a result, next year's salary cap could be bumped to somewhere between $40 million-$45 million.
The final figure is a long way from being determined, and could easily end up at the lower end of the spectrum. After all, it's possible that the high end is being floated out there to mollify players still seething over the escrow payments they're forced to make.
If indeed it's the lower end, this isn't much of a story. But if it does end up closer to $45 million, we're going to see some very interesting changes in the way business gets done in the NHL.
First, consider the impact on those free agents. It's true that salaries can only rise so far, but the ceiling might have just moved up from $7.8 million to $9 million. And while there aren't too many players out there who'll earn that kind of scratch -- the owners have learned from past mistakes like Bill Guerin and Bobby Holik, haven't they? -- you'll see plenty of movement in the middle, where the guy who would have been slotted at $3 million last summer asks for $5 million in 2006.
And he just might get it.
With all that new money to play with, there'll be several GMs ready to open the vault. Yep, get ready for the familiar free spenders -- the Leafs, the Red Wings, the Flyers, the Avs -- to once again make use of their fatter wallets and the new cap space to recapture the competitive advantage that they lost for all of one season under the new CBA.
In the shorter term, we may see teams approach the mid- and late-season trade market with a slightly altered viewpoint. While they're still bound to this year's cap budget, they now know they'll have more freedom next season, and likely beyond that as well.
That could mean that players with contracts that appeared onerous under a $39 million cap look much less so under one set at $45 million. And that could mean front-line players like Boston's Glen Murray, who has three years left at $4 million, will become much more attractive commodities around the trade deadline.
All of this remains speculative until the final figures are released. But just the suggestion of a higher cap is sure to impact the remaining months of this season. And it's sure to keep those agents smiling.