NHL Salary Cap and Expansion Draft News: Cap Could be Flat, Expansion Could be Soon

With the GM meetings still in full swing, the national diggers are out in full-force giving us all the great scoops on what's going on around the league. There are two hot items coming out today. Here's what we've got.

The Salary Cap - Either Flat or Slightly Increased

So it looks like talk of the cap going down by as much as $4M was just a scare thing (though it's not entirely out of the question until the cap is officially released). I wish I had a better read on whether the NHLPA will decide to take the escalator, but we've heard much more complaining than usual in the last season about how players are tired of losing money back to escrow and they'll likely be told that taking the escalator guarantees that continues.

Basically, the Escalator is a growth factor that the CBA allows which says they can set the cap higher than last year's revenue figures by assuming economic growth. Since the cap is based on the players' share of hockey-related revenues, not taking the escalator would be betting against growth with the possibility that the league exceeding projections would get them a bonus at the end of the year, split between all players. Escrow is money they set aside to hedge against projections not going as well and making it so the players owe money back. Players have lost a portion of their salary to Escrow almost every year of the cap era.

As for the Wings, right now according to General Fanager, they have $56.8M dedicated to 15 NHL players (10F 4D and 1G). This leaves about $14.6 against a flat cap for four forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie without other changes. If you consider Johan Franzen's LTIR, that gives them another $3.9M in space to fill another forward spot. The Wings have RFAs in Danny DeKeyser, Alexey Marchenko Riley Sheahan, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Petr Mrazek right now as well.

Expansion Draft News

So we'll find out what's going on with expansion just before the real draft and will probably get the expansion draft just a few days later. Most of the chatter suggest Las Vegas is most-likely to join the league right now without a second team just yet, but it's still possible nothing gets announced.

Good news as far as a team worried about being gutted on this front at least.

If this is the case, it's weird that there's basically not an option to protect two goalies, but I don't think the Wings would have done that anyway. I could see Detroit going with the option which allows 10 total skaters to be protected, even though I'm not sure I even want them to protect three defenseman if the draft were to happen this spring.

I'll be curious to see how much salary has to be exposed, but this shouldn't be a problem. It's not likely to be a huge amount, but it might give us hope that Ken Holland exposes Jonathan Ericsson to the expansion draft. The young kids thing is an interesting consideration. Pierre LeBrun explained that the concept of 1st & 2nd year pros doesn't mean NHL pros, but rather anybody who has more than two years at either the AHL or NHL level. This could potentially mean that the team would have to use a spot to protect Anthony Mantha or Andreas Athanasiou

We'll learn much more about both of these things at or near the end of the playoffs, but it's fun to think that a Vegas expansion could help get Ken Holland out of at least one of his bad contracts.


Leaving Howard and Ericsson unprotected gets the team more than halfway to this goal right off the bat. The Wings could also get another $3.9M towards this requirement by leaving Johan Franzen unprotected knowing that he absolutely would not be claimed.