Salary cap expected to go up to between $46 million and $47.5 million

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Despite lower attendance in some markets, the league's total revenues are on thre rise. This salary cap is currently $44 million.

"There's not going to be a dip," Ted Saskin, executive director of the NHL Players' Association, said after addressing NHL owners. "The cap's definitely going to increase based on everything I've seen so far."

Saskin would not say exactly how much, but the early word out of the Board of Govenors' meeting Monday was that revenues were expected to grow about five per cent this season, at least according to early projections, which translates into a $47.5-million salary cap.

"We're clearly going to have revenue growth," said Saskin, who spoke to reporters while owners continued to meet at the posh resort.

Last season's final revenue number was $2.178 billion, way ahead of the projected $1.8 billion, which in turn raised the salary cap from $39 million to $44 million. A five per cent growth in revenues this season would translate into about $2.286 billion and a $47.5 million salary cap for next year.

"It's not that we're going to be $380 million above forecast like we were last season, but I think we'll see good, healthy growth," said Saskin. "And that will reflect itself throughout the system in an increase in the upper limit, an increase in the payroll range and a significant reduction in the escrow, which started this season at 10 per cent.

"And that's the same thing I've been sharing with the players in my meetings with them."

Emptier arenas - NHL attendance is down about one per cent across the board - won't translate into lower revenues because the majority of teams raised ticket prices this season.

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