By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Due in part to the big bucks brought in by the immediate success of the Vegas Golden Knights, the National Hockey League upper limit of the salary cap is expected to go up by at least $3 million next season, according to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
It’s an obviously major boost to the league’s tight salary cap, which has remained relatively flat in recent years (going up by an average of $2 million per year), and the final number could go up even further, with Daly mentioning $82 million as a possible upper limit for 2018-19. (It’s worth adding that this is without the NHL and NHLPA enacting a potential salary cap inflator, too.)
That means that teams can get anywhere from at least $3 to $7 million extra to play with this summer.
And that’s obviously huge news for the Bruins.
A cap boosted by $3 million will give the Bruins at least $11.88 million to re-sign any of their seven pending unrestricted free agents (most of whom will likely walk without a contract offer from the B’s) and pair of arbitration-eligible restricted free agents, as well as address any potential holes on the roster with additions from outside the organization.
That undoubtedly makes B’s general manager Don Sweeney’s hectic summer a bit more manageable, too, as his ‘hard decisions’ to make become a bit more tolerable given that increase.
In other words, it can and should leave the Black and Gold with more than enough extra cash to re-sign a bottom-six glue guy and penalty killer supreme such as center Riley Nash or winger Tim Schaller to a multi-year contract without compromising the long-term financial flexibility of the franchise.
This is something that the Bruins have spent the early part of their offseason preparing for in some capacity, too, given what Sweeney outlined as the start of the club’s offseason planning earlier this month.
“We’re certainly going to explore everything,” Sweeney said at his year-end press conference when asked about his offseason plans. “We’ve got meetings that we’re going to go through from a coaching standpoint, pro meetings coming up. So, we’re going to put everything on the table and continue to explore any of the areas that we think we can improve our hockey club. It’s also exploring bringing back some of the guys that we felt were really good fits for our club, and some of them are pending [unrestricted free agents].”
In addition to roleplayers like Nash and Schaller, that increase could be valuable if the Bruins were to successfully coax the 33-year-old Rick Nash into a one-year, one-more-try kind of deal with the Bruins. Nash, while not the playoff performer the Bruins needed to push themselves into the third or fourth round of postseason play, enjoyed his time with the Bruins, and believes that the B’s are close to a Cup.
The upper limit increase could also help the Bruins in their pursuit of a left-shot defenseman, which seems to be at the top of the organization’s wish list, likely via trade given the rather barren state of the 2018 free agent market in this respect. Or if the Bruins want to go all in on a high-priced free agent (and total pipedream) such as Islanders captain John Tavares or Capitals defenseman John Carlson.
But this rising cap will be at its most valuable in 2019.
That’s when defenseman Brandon Carlo, forward Ryan Donato, winger Danton Heinen, and franchise-altering defender Charlie McAvoy all come off their highly-affordable entry-level contracts. If this year’s cap rises by $3 million and stays flat the following summer (which seems unlikely given the league’s growing revenue), a quiet 2018 offseason would give the Bruins at least $20 million to re-sign those pieces.
Thus extending the B’s cap window in more ways than one.
Ty Anderson is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.