NHL general managers and salary-cap specialists went scurrying for their calculators Friday, when the league and the NHL Players' Assn. announced the payroll ranges for the 2014-15 season.
The payroll range -- which is agreed upon by the league and the union -- will have a lower limit (floor) of $51 million, an adjusted midpoint of $60 million, and an upper limit (cap) of $69 million. The cap is tied to league revenues.
Preliminary projections last season, based in part on record revenues that the league was collecting and anticipating, had placed the cap at $71 million. That number apparently was brought down by the weakness of the Canadian dollar. The difference between $69 million and $71 million might not seem like much, but for teams that are pushing the upper limit, it could mean the difference between keeping or trading a player.
The Kings, for example, have no room to bring back defenseman Willie Mitchell after signing defenseman Matt Greene to a new, four-year deal.
The cap for last season was set at $64.3 million after the lockout that shortened the 2012-13 season.
Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi recognized in March that the salary cap for 2014-15 might not be as high as expected.
"We found out, to our chagrin and surprise the other day, we had been told the cap was going to be $71 [million] and now with the Canadian dollar having tanked, that the cap could be as low as $68 [million]. That's a huge swing," Lombardi said the day he completed the trade that brought winger Marian Gaborik to the Kings from Columbus.
“So that's more of the talks with our three guys, Mitchell, [Trevor] Lewis and Greene, who we'd all like to bring back. That's more of a hindrance than anything we acquired” before the trade deadline.