How a Stagnant Salary Cap Would Impact the New Jersey Devils


If you follow hockey then you know that the National Hockey League has had its 30 teams operate under a salary cap since the 2005-06 season. This salary cap has a minimum or “cap floor” and a maximum or “cap ceiling” that all teams must keep their salaries within. This salary cap usually increases from year to year as the league has seen increasing revenues and growth, but it is also impacted by the value of the Canadian dollar or “loonie.”

According to this New York Times article, the seven Canadian teams, “make up only 23 percent of the N.H.L., but by most estimates they contribute about 35 percent of revenue.”

“…the bulk of the league’s television money comes from Canada. Rogers Communications’ 12-year, $5.2 billion broadcast deal is paid in Canadian dollars, that contract was worth $4.9 billion in United States dollars a year ago, it is worth $4.6 billion today.” – The New York Times

A stagnant salary cap would mean that the salary cap would not increase next year which could create some interesting situations for teams already close to the cap ceiling. Take for example, the Chicago Blackhawks who have around $66 million committed to 15 players for next season and have a couple of restricted free agents guaranteed to demand pay increases.

If the salary cap were to remain stagnant and not increase for next year, the Hawks would be handicapped by the current $69 million cap and would most likely have to make some trades to get under the cap.

How Would a Stagnant Cap Impact the Devils?

The New Jersey Devils currently sit around $2.25 million under the cap ceiling and will have 24 free agents at the end of this year in the entire organization (15 UFA, 9 RFA). There will be a lot for GM Lou Lamoriello to do in the off-season due to the large amount of free agents the team will have, but he should also have some easier decisions to make as to who gets re-signed or released.

More from Pucks and Pitchforks

Two players with big cap hits who I don’t expect to return are captain

Bryce Salvador

($3.16 mil) and

Jaromir Jagr

($3.5 mil). Other candidates who may not be back with the Devils next season are

Damien Brunner

($2.5 mil),

Michael Ryder

($3.5 mil) and

Marek Zidlicky

($3 mil).

Just by that subtraction alone, the Devils would have an extra $15.6 million in addition to their current cap space to re-sign or at least make qualifying offers to 9 restricted free agents and any other players they need to add.

The subtraction of those five players would mean the Devils would have 10 unrestricted free agents (6 NHL, 4 AHL) and I could maybe see the Devils re-signing 7 of the 10. The total amount of cap space coming off the books this season is almost $29 million, so assuming some of the older and more expensive UFAs the Devils currently have will not be re-signed, the Devils would have plenty of cap space to make it through the stagnant cap situation.

In fact, the stagnant cap could benefit the Devils if a cap troubled team needs to unload an expensive contract to try to get under the cap. We already saw this happen earlier this season when the New York Islanders acquired two defensemen from cap ridden teams (Johnny Boychuk, Boston Bruins and Nick Leddy, Chicago Blackhawks).

Nothing is certain yet with next year’s salary cap and the Canadian dollar could very well rebound between now and next season, but teams and the NHL will watch closely and prepare for a stagnant cap. The only thing we do know is that it will certainly be an interesting off-season for Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey Devils.

If you would like to view the Devils cap situation check out their page on Cap Geek.