About a week ago NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the league’s Board of Governors that next season’s projected salary cap will “be approximately $71 million.”
That figure, which is based primarily on the NHL’s revenue, is a huge increase from this season’s $64.3 million limit. Next season’s lower limit is expected to be about $52 million.
So why is this important? Well, for the San Jose Sharks organization, it means a lot more money. A lot more money means a better chance to sign the big three free agents in Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dan Boyle. Keeping those guys means less rebuilding, and greater for everyone.
For those wondering, the highest earner of those three is Thornton who makes $7 million this year. Marleau follows hot on his heels with a $6.9 million salary while Boyle has a paltry $6.6 million salary. All of those are according to Capgeek.
The good news for the Sharks is that this rise in salary cap is higher than expected and it now seems like all three of them have a good chance of re-signing with the club. All three figure to be making fairly close to what they have been making this past season with the hope that they may take a hometown discount to stay with the Sharks and be on a contending team once again next season.
While San Jose has been tight-lipped on their negotiations with all three players there are reports that Thornton has put an offer in the ballpark of $7 million for another three years. While that is not really a hometown discount it is not too bad a contract either considering the length.
However, the fact that contract talks have started is good news for the Sharks on a few fronts, with the first reason being that San Jose has a chance to retain their top centerman, top winger, and top offensive defenseman all while having money to spare.
Second, if they can lock all three guys up for a couple more years, then they keep rolling with a very deep team while at the same time allowing guys in the AHL and lower to mature. Then, in a couple more years’ time the hope is a guy like Tomas Hertl has emerged as a top winger while a guy like Mirco Mueller might be ready to step up to the NHL by then.
Even salary cap wise, if you assume all three guys make the same next year as they did this year, that would add up to just over $20 million dollars (which is on the higher end of things). Right now, according to Capgeek, the Sharks will have about $26 million in cap room. Subtract that $20 million and that leaves about $6 million to sign guys like Tommy Wingels, Jason Demers, Alex Stalock, and James Sheppard, all of who become restricted free agents after this season.
Also, don’t forget that general manager Doug Wilson has the compliance buyout card in his back pocket as well should he choose to use it. His most likely target would be Martin Havlat, and dropping that salary would add an extra $5 million in room.
Either way you look at it, this potential rise in next season’s salary cap will greatly help the San Jose Sharks during an offseason where they will have plenty to do. The added money will allow them to have a little extra wiggle room when trying to re-sign Thornton, Marleau, and Boyle (assuming they want them back) and should help the team stay one of the tops in the west if that happens. And, as an added bonus, you would get the continued development of the younger players in the system who still need a couple more years.