On Friday February 12th, reports have surfaced that the NHL Salary cap for the 2016-17 season could decrease as much as four million dollars.
Now James Mirtle of the Globemail and TSN states that the Cap will only decrease if the NHL Players Union decides not to use the Cap “Inflator Cause”. The Cap “inflator clause” is that the players can vote on it and increase the expected salary cap by 5%. The “inflator clause” helps players who are UFA’s and RFA’s, as theres more money for them to get. In basic terms, it is a player clause that allows the players to raise the cap slightly so other players can get paid.
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So if the players do not vote to use the “inflator clause” the cap will go down by four million dollars next season. The cap going down next season will be very bad for several teams including the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks currently have $64,175,127 in contracts for next season. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Artem Anisimov, Teuvo Teravainen, Artemi Panarin, Andrew Desjardins, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Rob Scuderi, and Trevor van Riemsdyk, Erik Gustafsson, Corey Crawford, Scott Darling, and Bryan Bickell are all under contract for next season. That leaves Andrew Shaw, Richard Panik, Jiri Sekac, Phillip Danault, Dennis Rasmussen, Brandon Mashinter, Michal Rozsival, Viktor Svedberg, and Marcus Kruger in need of a contract. Mashinter and Rozsival are the only two Blackhawks UFA’s.
The current cap is at $71.4 million and if it goes down by four million, the Cap would be $67.4 million next season. By my crude math, the Blackhawks would have $224,873 in cap space left for next season. If that holds true, the Blackhawks would not have enough money to have a 25 man roster at the NHL level. They would have enough money for 16 players: eight forwards, six defensemen, and two goalies.
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The Blackhawks can combat their salary cap issues next season with several moves. Realistically the Blackhawks will buy out both Bickell and Scuderi. Bickell would be bought out and his Cap hit next year would be one million dollars, saving the Blakchawks three million against the Cap. Scuderi’s buyout would cost the Blackhawks $1,1291,66 against the Cap and save the team $2,083,334. The Blackhawks would have $5,083,334 in Cap Space added next season.$5,083,33 might be enough to sign some of the Blackhawks restricted free agents or add younger players from Rockford. It will not be enough money to sign both Shaw and Kruger.
Buying out Scuderi and Bickell are the easy decisions, The Blackhawks will still be faced with many tough decisions. Do they have to trade Kruger and Shaw’s rights? Do they finally bring up Ville Pokka and Marko Dano?
The potential decrease in the Salary Cap could also effect this season. Teams might not be willing to take as much salary for the future with the Salary Cap potential going down next season. Do not expect Stan Bowman to add a player at the deadline with any salary commitment beyond this season.
This is an interesting issue to watch going forward.