NHL Rumor Mill – September 28, 2017

by | Sep 28, 2017 | Rumors | 26 comments

The fluctuating Canadian dollar will be among the factors that could drive the NHL’s 2018-19 salary cap ceiling toward $80 million.

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. 



  1. $80,000,000 bring it on! This means teams like the Rangers, Leafs, and so on can sign people! I agree with the cap overall, but think that teams that can spend are hampered by this system.

    If it is determined that the ceiling can, in fact, go this high then the Board of Governors need to honor the natural order of things with respect to basic supply and demand. If some teams cannot adhere to this then so be it.

    • That is very true, high dollar contracts are as much risk as they are reward. We’ve seen it too frequently the UFA fever and bad contracts that hold a team back for a couple of years.

    • I recognize that the cap promotes competitiveness; however, if the basic laws of supply and demand dictate ownership’s capability to pay $80,000,000 per team then let it be. This should be supported by the PA as players will make more, but then again as some teams cannot reach this plateau then the number of jobs could be affected as some teams may need to fold. It’s a slippery slope. If I was the manager/owner of a team that could spend I think I would find it frustrating to deal with this. And on another note, I do realize how teams like the Rangers and Leafs spent a lot of money on players that did not lead to championships. But it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to try. If it’s $80,000,000 it’s $80,000,000.

      • as much as I dislike the man Melnyck proved a internal cap team can be a Stanley cup competitor. I wouldn’t mind seeing some adjustments… such as teams signing players drafted and developed by them getting some small salary cap exemptions. teams being able to trade cap space, etc.

    • The $80 million is purely speculation on what the Canadian dollar is presently at. As Lyle correctly noted if it stays where it’s presently at when it comes time to decide the cap ceiling then yes it will rise considerably if it falls back down, then we’ll see the modest increase we been seeing.
      Personally I’m 100% for the cap, it makes the GM manage and simply just can’t throw dollars at the problem hoping it will go away.

      • Agreed Caper, and I do think the cap has created competitive balance. But there are times when it simply impedes a team’s progress basically to ensure other teams who normally could not compete can. I am not sure that is always fair.

        And yes, I selfishly include my favorite team, the Leafs, as one that an increase in the cap would benefit. I realize the $80,000,000 is speculation; however, I am hoping that the League does not decide to interfere with the natural progression of the cap.

      • Ottawa’s current cap space is $5,696,389 – hardly astronomical – and about the same as last year, which gave Dorion the “wiggle” room to go out and get (and re-sign) Burrows, as well as obtain veteran experience like Stahlberg and Wingels for the final push and playoffs. Teams that are smack up against the cap find it much more difficult to do that.

    • 1st off the term CAP…and parity are political code words for Gary and owners to make larger profits…and stimy true market value for players in comparison to other professional sports leagues.

      With a huge down payment by the Vegas team and a foot on the door in China / Asia there is more than enough for a cap increase of that minimal significance.

      I am also of the stance that the NHL should stat out of the Olympics …with a possible nuclear at and off with North Korea as well.

      Not to get political…lol

      On the soft side …lol

      Blues may look to a player like JVR to fill some holes…perfect fit with contract and positional need right now.

      HABS need to spend that 8 million and make a significant move up frint as they look terrible.

      • Kal El,

        There is no question that the CAP is there to supplement owner’s pockets and Bettman is certainly aware of that. It would never have been implemented if, in fact, it didn’t benefit them in some way. That’s why I say that it has had a positive impact on the competitive balance of the League. But at what cost? Ironically enough it could be argued that it is a system within a League smacking of a socialist bent to benefit a profitable agenda. This, in fact, is antithetical to true Keynesian l’aissez faire economic policy. Thus, one could argue that the capitalistic interests of the ownership class is being propped up by a mix of conservative socialism. “Watch your spending guys so we can make it look like we are defending the have-nots in the League!” Definite code words for sure. However, much to my chagrin it does make for a more competitive League.

      • Without the cap and the resulting restrictions it imposes on the very rich teams, the NHL would be going through franchise reductions rather than expansion.

      • Steven.

        The facts don’t support you. Last seasons #’s aren’t available yet but here are 2015-16’s.


        Expansion made possible by getting a far better business model in place has allowed the game to grow exponentially in NA so the have teams can malke more money.

        The top 4 teams in the NHL make more money than the other 26 combined but couldn’t with out them.

        We have had 2 lock outs & 1 players strike. In about 2 more lock outs the business model will be far more balanced for all.

        No teams are folding, the NHL will be a 32 team league very soon. The NHL won’t be making cap concessions in any way, they will be clawing back from the players yet again in the next labor dispute. Neither side will opt out early so that’s Sept 2022.

        The cap is in place to try & allow all teams to profit & grow the game. That’s happening rapidly just look at where NHL players are starting to come from. All over the US. Not just a few select northern states.

  2. If Columbus is still in the Duchene talks, they must be about the only one left. In this morning’s Ottawa Sun Don Brennan writes “Conversations between the Senators and Avalanche on a trade involving Matt Duchene have been dead for awhile. Now they’ve been officially buried. Columbus GM Joe Sakic simply wanted too much in return.”

    • George did you read the Erik Karlsson article, when talking about his ankle bone being have gone, he said he must block shot differently. I was thinking, how about not blocking them at all! Way to valuable to be losing him over blocking a shot.

      • Shot-blockers do have a short shelf-life (Volchenkov is a prime example) and I agree, you don’t want to lose a Karlsson because of a 100-mph puck on the ankle. I’m surprised some engineer hasn’t yet come up with the definitive protection for that part of the anatomy that doesn’t hamper skating.

      • Karlsson was #2 in the league in blocked shots last season someone else needs to step up this year. He may be prone to flamingo until he determines how to best block shots.

  3. The cap is a dbl edge sword. It helps make the league competitive, but also holds back the clubs that are better off financially. Tho I am not for teams basically buying the cup. So the cap makes franchises actually develope players and makes scouting that more important. Instead of letting the lesser teams develope the prospects and then the money teams buying them when the poor teams cant afford them.

    • Exactly JAG,

      And that’s why I say let it climb naturally and let the chips fall where they may. I think anybody making an argument that the cap does not improve competitive balance is being silly. But there is a happy medium.

    • Jag, I agree with the guts of your post but I do not get where the second edge of the sword is. Sports should be about the sport and not money as much as is possible within our system of finance. If anything there needs to be more revenue sharing between the teams so more teams can reach higher into the cap.

      Financial projections for Canada are cautiously optimistic with the Bank of Canada possibly raising the prime rate again in 2018, which will boost the loonie again. the Oil and Leafs are looking strong (possible long playoff runs), Calgary is looking competitive. Vegas is all new money. Put it all together and the cap will jump. The CBA is in so the league can’t play with the cap, only the PA withholding the inflator can.
      Man I can’t wait until first puck drop…..

      • Habsfan, if sport should be about sport and not the money, then there would be NO private owners. Each franchise would be owned by the city in which it operates, whose responsibility would be to hire management as needed who, in turn would find coaches and draft the players they see fit (much as now). The salaries would be fixed at a decent but specific minimum and maximum, and all other monies generated through games, merchandising, TV/radio deals, etc., would go into city coffers for infrastructure spending and other social needs.

        That’s more or less Sir Thomas More’s Utopia – but don’t hold your breath. It ain’t gonna happen any time soon because then you would have to legislate against private owners forming their own leagues and that hardly fits the democratic paradigm. In fact, if you go back far enough in some sports, that’s how some leagues began – community owned.

        It didn’t take long to find out that putting bureaucrats in charge of anything is a fast-track to a dog’s breakfast.

      • George O, you completely misunderstand my point. I never suggested anything you suggested, at all. I am sorry if you misunderstood or if
        I was not clear. I did state ‘ as much as possible within our finical system’. I do not want a situation, as others have said, have Stanley Cups bought rather than earned. If teams are create as much as possible based on development, scouting, coaching and just raw talent we all get to enjoy a much better game. I remember watching the slow and painful death of the Montreal Expos and feel for fans of NHL teams that might not be able to afford to compete despite having a truly solid backbone.

    • The other edge of the sword is that if you are a team that drafts and develops its players on a higher level than other teams you can’t afford to keep all talent you incubate. And that’s wrong. Why should other teams be able to poach your mid level players if you can’t afford to sign everyone. The Penguins are going to lose players like Brian Rust and Scott Wilson so they can afford to pay Jake Guentzel and Daniel Sprong. They may even have to trade a Phil Kessel to be able to keep their young guys. Rust is a dynamic player that can play on any line and be effective but he’s not a star. Same with Wilson really. How much can the Pens afford to pay these guys when there contracts are up next year and they deserve a raise? Something has to give. Guentzel and Sprong are going to be stars and 30 goal scorers so they will command 5 mill plus. Rust is not a 30 goal scorer but Big Game Brian brings a lot to the table. Why should some team that sucks at drafting be able to poach him because the Pens have to pay Jake and Danny? It is a measure that definitely creates parity but it also impedes dynasties.

      • dynasties.. while fun in our case, aren’t really good for business. its about picking and choosing your players… if the team, like the pens, is good at drafting/developing then they will continue to fill the holes left by the departing players.

      • Couldn’t agree more chrisms. Dynasties are only great for the team/city and their fans concerned.

      • The Pittsburgh Penguins literally would no longer exist if not for the salary cap.

  4. Another fun read from Elliote Friedman – any hockey nut will love it, especially the Ed Olzyck story.
    By the way, if Major League Baseball had a salary cap, what would it be?

  5. If Detroit was smart, which they’re not as of late, they would be looking at moving Sheahan, Frk, Helm or Sadowy to St. L for a draft pick and/ or D prospect. If possible to pull off a mega trade involving Nyquist (unlikely due to salary and cap space issues). I love AA’s game but fear the well has been poisoned by Holland. Might consider trading his rights for a 1st Rd pick. Alas, Jenny and Blashill are probably looking at adding a depth player of which we have 7.