LAS VEGAS (AP) The NHL's salary cap for the upcoming 2015-16 season will increase to $71.4 million, allaying some concerns about a weak Canadian dollar's impact on the hockey pay scale.
The NHL and the Players' Association announced the figure Tuesday as the league's general managers met in Las Vegas.
The salary cap will increase by $2.1 million from the just-completed season to its highest level in league history.
Many observers had projected the cap to land between $70 million and $71 million after the Canadian dollar's slump over the past year hurt the league's seven Canadian teams, but the NHLPA triggered a 5 percent escalator clause in the collective bargaining agreement to boost the cap.
The cap still isn't high enough to save several teams from tough choices. Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Tampa Bay, Montreal, Vancouver and Los Angeles are among the franchises with hefty commitments for the upcoming season that must figure out how to fit an entire roster under the cap.
Several high-spending teams, including the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, probably still must dump some salaries or cut ties with free agents this summer, with many moves expected this week. Chicago has only 14 players under contract for next season with nearly $65 million in salary, including $10.5 million apiece committed to captain Jonathan Toews and goal-scorer Patrick Kane under their new deals.
''It's going to be tough for our team, and tough for some of our teammates,'' Toews said. ''Obviously it's not an enjoyable moment, knowing that we might have to lose a few.''
The cap floor has been set at $52.8 million, marking the minimum that teams must spend on salaries. Arizona, Nashville and Buffalo have the lowest current commitments among the 11 teams that will have to spend to reach that minimum level.
The NHL draft is this weekend in Florida, and the free agent signing period opens July 1.