SBD/December 10, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NHL Salary Cap Increasing Next Season To About $71M, Floor Will Rise As Well

Bettman did not want to take credit for leading the league's post-lockout revival
NHL revenues have "increased so much" that next season’s salary cap is expected to be roughly $71M (all figure U.S.), close to a 12% increase from '13-14, according to Stephen Whyno of the CP. The figure is "an estimate," but it is the number NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday delivered to the BOG. Bettman said, "We try to give people a sense of where we think it’ll come out, but it’s subject to a whole host of issues -- ultimately how much revenue is generated, where the Canadian dollar is, because we convert to U.S. dollars. If you want a rough, rough, rough ballpark, OK, but it could change." Even as a rough estimate, a $71M salary cap "represents a major bounce-back for the league after the lockout." Teams were "allowed to spend" up to $70.2M during the lockout-shortened season, but then the cap was set at $64.3M this season in accordance with the new CBA. Bettman "did not want to take credit for leading the league back." Several GMs "bought into Bettman’s notion that a higher salary cap is good for everyone because it means more money." The cap floor this season is $44M, and it is "expected to be" about $52M or $53M next season. Data from CapGeek shows that the only team with a cap number of less than $52M is the Panthers. Jets Chair Mark Chipman said that his team "will be fine with the higher cap and floor." Flames President Ken King said, "We are a small-market team, that is obvious. This deal [gives] us the opportunity to compete with larger-market teams. We’ve been a cap team since the system was implemented, but this new deal will give us the revenues to get there" (CP, 12/9).

TV MONEY: In Philadelphia, Frank Seravalli notes the NHL BOG is "expected to receive an estimate on how much each team will be receiving as part of the new Canadian national television rights package." Seravalli cites an estimate from TSN's Darren Dreger that the deal would be worth an average of $15M per team per season "in new (essentially free) revenue, minus an 'invasion fee' paid to the league's seven Canadian clubs." That number "will be multiplied by 10 years." The salary cap is being pushed up by what is "expected to be" a record-setting $4B in revenue during the '13-14 season (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 12/10).

SAME AS IT EVER WAS? SPORTSNET.ca's Mark Spector wrote under the header, "Will it be a familiar dance with NHL, NHLPA?" Spector asks of the rising salary cap, "Why will the cycle be different this time?" The difference today -- "thanks in large part to the new TV deal with Rogers (which owns this website) -- is that national revenues now make up as much as 18 percent of the NHL’s revenues, as opposed to five or six percent not so long ago." As such, revenue sharing "has gone from less significant sums to the possibility of real money -- perhaps as much" as $30M for some teams. Spector: "That's the kind of money a small market team could actually survive on" (SPORTSNET.ca, 12/9). CBSSPORTS.com's Brian Stubits wrote the salary cap increase "almost makes you wonder why we went through another lockout last year." At least teams that "live on the floor might be wondering that as with the cap going up, so will the salary floor" (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/9).
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