Five NHL Teams That Will Benefit From A Big Salary-Cap Hike
Last week, TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie tweeted the salary cap for the NHL’s 2018-19 season will end up between $78 million – $82 million. That’s a significant increase over the current $75 million and the biggest jump in the cap in four years.
Whatever the final number, it’ll be welcome news for those NHL clubs in need of additional salary-cap space for 2018-19. Here’s a look at five teams most in need of a higher cap ceiling. Salary info via Cap Friendly.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Over $70 million tied up in 17 players. Forwards Riley Sheahan, Bryan Rust and Tom Kuhnhackl are restricted free agents with arbitration rights this summer. Apart from Sheahan, all their remaining RFAs had annual average values of under $1 million, so they’ll be looking for substantial raises.
Fortunately for the Penguins, all their core players remain under contract so there’s no pressing need to shed salary. Most of their key RFAs can likely be re-signed to affordable increases. Still, the higher the cap, the more wiggle room for general manager Jim Rutherford to re-sign or replace those players and still leave enough for potential moves next season.
Chicago Blackhawks: Over $68 million invested in 17 players. This includes the cap relief they’ll receive by once again placing winger Marian Hossa (skin condition) on long-term injured reserve. Patrick Sharp is their sole notable unrestricted free agent, while Anthony Duclair and Vinnie Hinostroza are their noteworthy restricted free agents.
Assuming Hossa remains on LTIR next season and they part ways with Sharp, it shouldn’t cost much to re-up or replace their free agents. Should the cap exceed $80 million, the Blackhawks could have sufficient room to either address their lack of skilled blueline depth or add a scoring winger.
Washington Capitals: Over $63 million tied up in 16 players. Notable UFAs include John Carlson, Jay Beagle and Alex Chiasson while RFAs include Tom Wilson, Philipp Grubauer and Devante Smith-Pelly.
Their priority is Carlson, who’s due a big raise after earning just under $4-million annually on his current deal. A cap increase to $82 million provides sufficient room to re-sign him for nearly double his current annual average value. However, it could be a tight fit to squeeze all the others under the cap. One or two of them could be playing elsewhere next season in favor of more affordable options.
Minnesota Wild: Over $63 million invested in 17 players. Notable RFAs include forward Jason Zucker and blueliner Matt Dumba, who both have arbitration rights.
Unless the Wild decide to shake things up this summer, Zucker and Dumba will be re-signed. Doing so, however, could cost a combined $9 million. An $82-million cap should allow sufficient space for those two and still leave up to $10 million to fill the remaining roster spots.
Detroit Red Wings: Over $57 million tied up on 15 players. Defenseman Mike Green is their only notable UFA while forwards Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou are their top RFAs. Athanasiou is the only one with arbitration rights.
It could cost the Wings around $9 million combined to re-sing Larkin and Mantha to long-term deals. Perhaps they’ll try play hardball in hopes of getting both under affordable short-term bridge deals. It could cost over $4 million annually for Athanasiou, who’ll want a bigger raise after settling for a one-year, $1.3 million contract for this season. The extra cap room will also come in handy to re-sign or replace Green and perhaps add another top-four defenseman and a backup goaltender.