General managers across the NHL are preparing for a “sharp rise” in the league’s salary cap over the next few seasons, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Rory Boylen, with teams reportedly receiving projections of the approximate salary cap through 2025-26.
As noted in the Sportsnet report, "these are projections and possibilities and an educated guess on where we could be going, not a guarantee of where things will be."
The salary cap, which rose this season for the first time since 2019, will be at $82.5 million for 2022-23 and rise to $83.5 for 2023-24. Star players like Maple Leafs sniper Auston Matthews and Lightning captain Steven Stamkos are notable free agents in the 2024 offseason.
It's then expected to bump up another $4-plus million for each of the 2024-25 and 2025-26 campaigns. The projected salary cap of $92-plus million by the 2026 offseason would represent around a $10-million raise over three seasons. The summer of 2025 is expected to be especially busy with major stars like Sidney Crosby, Mitch Marner, Victor Hedman and Leon Draisaitl all up for new deals.
With the shortened COVID seasons in 2019-20 and in 2020-21, there was an imbalance in the revenue split between the players and owners. The league introduced a flat salary cap until hockey-related revenue surpassed $3.3 billion in the preceding season as well as a series of escrow clawbacks to even things out.
The salary cap had previously risen every season from 2013-14 until 2019-20.
With this considerable potential rise there is also an expectation that Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon’s record-setting $12.6 million AAV contract, which he signed last week, won’t remain the NHL’s highest salary for long. Matthews will be ready to sign a new deal in 2024 and he'll likely easily surpass that AAV.
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