THE DAY HAS ARRIVED. After months of outside speculation and educated pinpointing, the NHL and NHLPA jointly announced on Tuesday that the 2015-16 salary ceiling has been set at $71.4 million. This is a $2.4 million increase over the 2014-15 salary cap.
The lower limit of the “Team Payroll Range” is $52.8 million, and the adjusted midpoint is $62.1 million.
On the spectrum of where the salary cap was expected to land, this is not quite as high as the figure that had been theorized roughly a year and a half ago, but significantly higher than some fall and winter estimates that, given the data available at the time, predicted a much smaller raise, or perhaps even no raise at all.
Factors that kept salary cap estimates relatively low included a weakened Canadian dollar and whether or not the players would choose to exercise the five percent escalator on the cap (they ultimately did).
For the Kings – and other teams near the cap ceiling – this is modestly good news, given that it was possible that the cap might not reach $71 million. Los Angeles has roughly $64.15 million allotted to 17 players for the 2015-16 season, a figure that includes both Mike Richards’ and Slava Voynov’s contracts (The Kings would have roughly $59.98M spent on 16 players if Voynov’s contract is not included).
A theoretical Richards buy-out would also affect Los Angeles’ flexibility; while the Kings would save roughly $4.53 million this season should they choose to buy out his contract, they would get less relief in coming years, especially in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Click here for the financial implications of a Richards buyout. A trade is also possible, though there is not a highly competitive market for his services at this time, per sources.
After the team comes to terms with goaltender Martin Jones, as is expected to happen relatively soon, the Kings will set clearer sights on fellow restricted free agent Tyler Toffoli, and, should an agreement be reached expeditiously, unrestricted free agent defenseman Andrej Sekera. Despite the $2.4 million increase in the salary cap, the idea of unrestricted free agents Justin Williams or Jarret Stoll resigning with the Kings remains unlikely.
Among the club’s restricted free agents are forwards Nick Shore, Andy Andreoff, Nic Dowd and Jordan Weal.