Should We Expect The NHL Salary Cap To Go Up?

That is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? That is the answer everyone wants. As documented this summer on, the NHL Salary Cap has been the big winner.

Salary Cap Was Big Winner of NHL Free Agency

It has forced teams to get rid of good players or make trades they did not want to make in order to free up money to sign or trade for someone. The list of teams up against the NHL Salary Cap includes the Edmonton Oilers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the list goes.

Some have maneuvered the cap wisely. Others have not. That is the reality of the situation. Most teams figured at the end of last season the salary cap was going to up by a couple of million dollars not by a million dollars.

Again it is the world we live in because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Nobody envisioned the economics to be so different. Most expected the cap to be in the $90 million range by now. Now it stands at $83.5 million.

Could we finally see the NHL Salary Cap go? Let’s dive into that exact subject.

There is Still Doubt The Salary Cap Will Go Up

As Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now stated on the Full Press NHL Podcast, he does not believe the salary cap will increase significantly after this season as everyone says it will.

Murphy: “I know a lot of people right now are getting excited and saying well it will go up next season and then by 2026 it will be up near $100 million. I don’t believe that at all. I think it’s all lies. When Gary Bettman came last year, I don’t if you remember it was when they were doing the media tour right before the season started, and he said the cap for this past season was going up $2-$2.5 million and I remember talking to agents, players, scouts, and GMs and they were like what the hell is he talking about. There is no possible way that is going to happen. It’s not. The players still have to pay off the escrow.”

And that was the big sticking point during the season was the escrow. The teams could have seen the salary cap go up but the players had to vote on it. They did not want to have to pay more escrow. But the reason they did is that during COVID, the players got their full paychecks. So with that finally paid off, the salary cap should go up based on that fact alone.

Economics Alone Will See The Salary Cap Go Up

David Alter on the Full Press NHL Podcast: “You have to remember the players got paid their full money in the final check at the end of the 19-20 season when the league ended abruptly. So they could have foregone that. They took it. Fair enough. That’s fine. And on top of that in 2020-21 in that 56-game season, they got their money too.

Sure the escrow payment was 18 percent but essentially they got their full check without playing a full year. The players played two-thirds of the year. So I mean there are reasons why the cap didn’t go up. You can point to them. Like they weren’t going to make that cap go up higher now until everything was repaid. And so it is fully gonna be repaid finally and a lot of what the cap normally is the power of inflation.

Inflation has gone up so much in a year and bit that number will go up straight because nominal dollars don’t mean the same thing that they used to. Regardless of the economic health of the league, everything is going to up based on inflation alone in terms of that number amount. Right? This person said absolutely.

Inflation will be a driving force for the cap to go up. I will be shocked if it is anything less than $86.5 million next year, I think it could be $87 million or higher.”

There is a Belief Around the Cap Will Go Up

Alter is not the only one who spoke with someone in the league about the salary cap going up.

Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discussed the topic in the latest edition of the 32 Thoughts Podcast on Sportsnet. Marek and Friedman discuss the Jake Sanderson deal and how it is an indication that the salary cap is going up based on economics as Alter states above.

Marek: “Sometimes there are deals Elliotte that give you an indication of where the salary cap is going. My first thought when I saw this is, the salary cap is going up, and it’s going up big time.

Jake Sanderson goes from $925,000 to $8.05 million.”

Friedman: “They’ve been planning on that for the last two summers. About $4.5 (million) next year and $5 (million) the year after.

I mean, we’ll see but that’s what they’re telling people. Yes.”

Marek: “The reminder more than anything else.”

The proof is in the pudding as they say. We will see if it is all talk, but if the Players have repaid back all the escrow and the numbers show they have then the NHL Salary Cap will be going up.