The Salary Cap, and Floor, Could Rise More Than Expected

Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:

When the new CBA debuted in January, James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail had an excellent analysis of it and projected the cap floor and ceiling for the duration. The new CBA expires after the 2021-22 season (although either party can opt-out two years earlier) and Mirtle projected that, with a straight 5 percent increase in revenue each season, the cap could eclipse the $80 million mark during those final two seasons.

According to NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman, that $80 million salary cap could come a lot sooner than anyone thought. Friedman says that it could happen as soon as year six of the current CBA, or the 2017-18 season. For comparison, Mirtle’s 5 percent projection estimated a cap of $71.8 million that same year. The cap is currently set at $64.3 million for next season with a floor of $44 million.

If Friedman’s $80 million target is correct, that means the salary floor would hit about $55-60 million at that time. Under the new CBA, the cap ceiling and floor are calculated by adding/subtracting 15 percent to the salary midpoint.

The Islanders are above the cap for next season, according to CapGeek, with a total cap payroll of $49.5 million for 23 players. While a higher than expected cap would also push the floor up, the Islanders could have some of that cost subsidized by new revenue sharing rules that were added to the new CBA.

The Islanders have back-loaded most of their “core” contracts, meaning the players will get paid more in later years of the deal than the earlier years, however this does not change the cap situation, as the contract’s average value is taken into account and not the specific amount the player receives each year. For example, Travis Hamonic’s new contract scales up from $1.25 million this season to $4.875 million in 2019-20 but his cap hit each year will be $3,857,143, the average value of the contract. This was likely done to pay young players more as their skills (hopefully) develop and/or the team is projecting a revenue increase in coming years.

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