The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association officially set the salary cap upper limit at $82.5 million this week, a figure that was projected as the upper limit for months.
It is an increase of $1 million, as the salary cap remained the same for the previous three seasons due to COVID-19 and the revenue problems it created. In future seasons, the salary cap limit is expected to continue to increase. Per ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, the salary cap will not increase significantly for a handful of seasons.
For teams like the Capitals, any upward movement of the salary cap is a positive development. Every season since they began contending for the Stanley Cup in 2008, the Capitals have been at or near the upper limit of the salary cap.
If Carl Hagelin (left eye injury) is able to come off LTIR and return to action, the Capitals have, as of now, 14 forwards, five defensemen and zero goalies under contract for next season. That would leave them with $8,978,334 million in cap space, per CapFriendly. Those figures do not include potential call-ups like defenseman Alexander Alexeyev ($863,333 cap hit) or forward Aliaksei Protas ($789,167 cap hit).
Additionally, the Capitals’ summer will focus around the health (or lack thereof) of some key players in the organization.
Hagelin has a $2.75 million cap hit and is working his way back from the eye injury. Tom Wilson, with a $5,166,666 cap hit, is recovering from ACL surgery and is not expected back to the team until late November at the earliest. Nicklas Backstrom has a $9.2 million cap hit and is still battling a lingering left hip injury. All are candidates for long-term injured reserve and Hagelin and Backstrom’s futures still remain uncertain.
It was wildly projected and planned for for months, but $82.5 million will mean another tight year for the Capitals as it relates to the salary cap.
The Capitals have $56,079,999 committed to their 14 forwards and $17,341,667 committed to their five defensemen. But changes appear to be coming for the Capitals, who could have a wildly busy next month on the horizon.