NHL Rumor Mill – September 28, 2017
Salary cap speculation plus the latest on the Blues and Cam Atkinson in your NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reports that word from Wednesday’s NHL Board of Governors’ meeting is the possibility the salary cap could reach $80 million for 2018-19.
Friedman points out this season’s cap would’ve reached $79 million had the league and the NHL Players Association implemented the full salary-cap inflator. He also notes other factors, such as the Canadian dollar, revenue projections, the inflator and escrow, will affect the final figure of next season’s cap ceiling.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe the value of the Canadian dollar could have the biggest effect upon next season’s cap ceiling. The decline in the value of the “loonie” in recent years is largely behind the modest salary-cap increases. If it remains at over .80 cents USD for the remainder of the season it should significantly bolster the cap ceiling for 2018-19. As Friedman observes, that would be good news for cap-strapped teams and general managers.
The injury-ravaged St. Louis Blues could be in need of some short-term help. Forward Robby Fabbri (knee injury) is done for the season while Patrik Berglund and Zach Sanford will be out for months. Forward Alex Steen will be re-evaluated next week and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester the following week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Blues go shopping for help it’ll likely be at forward. I think they have sufficient depth to offset Bouwmeester’s absence if he’s sidelined for a lengthy period. They had high hopes for Fabbri this season and losing him could hurt their offense. Same with Steen if he’s out longer than expected.
Friedman reports it doesn’t sound as though there’s been much contract talk between the Columbus Blue Jackets and right wing Cam Atkinson. He’s an unrestricted free agent next summer who tallied 35 goals last season. Even if they re-sign defenseman Jack Johnson, Friedman thinks there’s enough room for Atkinson, though much will depend upon how things go this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Atkinson’s contract talks could also depend upon how much they invest in re-signing restricted free agent Josh Anderson and other moves they make this season. The Jackets have been linked to Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene since early July. If they acquire Duchene and his $6 million annual cap hit through 2018-19, that could affect how much they’ll have to re-sign Atkinson.