This summer just got a whole lot more interesting.
After several hours of negotiations, the NHL and NHL Players' Association came to an agreement on a $69 million salary cap for the 2014-15 season. That's about $2 million less than many teams were expecting...and now they're going to feel the crunch.
Word from league sources suggests the NHL wanted to set the upper figure at $70 million based on revenue and some funds from the new Canadian TV contract. The PA preferred a lower $68 million level to limit the impact of escrow on the players. The two compromised on the middle ground.
While that sounds perfectly reasonable, it leaves several teams in a serious financial bind. The Chicago Blackhawks currently have $69,479,295 committed to 22 players, according to capgeek.com. Earlier today, the team committed just over $3 million to secure the services of forwards Ben Smith and Jeremy Morin and backup goaltender Antti Raanta. Half a million isn't impossible to shave, but if GM Stan Bowman is serious about pursuing a second-line center prior to the season, then real money will have to go out in return...and that could mean the end of the line for two-way winger Patrick Sharp.
The Flyers might be in a tougher spot, with a commitment of $69,236,429 to just 19 players. They'll save nearly $5 million by placing Chris Pronger on Long Term Injured Reserve when the season starts, but they still need to sign a backup for Steve Mason along with one more forward and a defenseman. GM Ron Hextall will have to swallow hard and gift wrap center Vincent Lecavalier with a high pick or a solid prospect to get another team to take on his $4.5 million commitment for the next four years.
Keep an eye on Philly and the Florida Panthers tonight. With the Flyers hosting the draft, and the Panthers holding the first-overall pick and needing to take on salary to hit the $51 floor, there may be a deal to be made here.
The news pretty much ends any hope that the Bruins had of re-signing 30-goal man Jarome Iginla. Boston has $67,329,643 committed to just 18 players, with RFA's Reilly Smith and Torey Krug looking for significant increases over their entry-level contracts. It's a good bet that Johnny Boychuk and his expiring $3.36 million cap hit will have to be shipped out, and there's a chance the team will have to buy out fourth-line veterans Gregory Campbell and Chris Kelly.
The Penguins have just $55,119,167 on the books so far, but that covers just seven forwards, five defensemen and two goaltenders.
More to come.