Up, Up and away... The days of fiscal sanity may soon be coming to an end in the NHL.
In a league where a billionaire is offering up 240 million dollars for a struggling southern franchise and is getting the cold shoulder for his efforts, the prospect of needing more money to operate your franchise once seems to be a given. As of July 1st, the cost of covering salaries in Gary Bettman's NHL is about to go up.
The free agent sweepstakes get under way on Canada Day and to help the leagues GM's make their plans, the NHL finally revealed the mystery number that everyone has been waiting on.
The league office announced today, that the 2007-08 salary cap and NHL teams will be allowed to spend up to $50.3 million US on player salaries next season. It's the second year in a row that NHL teams have been given the green light to spend more, with the floor on spending sitting $34.3 million, which is the bottom level for spending on players in 2007-08.
No doubt the first team to strive for that benchmark will the Nashville/Hamilton/Kansas City Predators, who spent the last two weeks relieving themselves of the burden of those nasty pending free agency problems by trading away a good portion of their high end.
But they probably won't be alone in their spendthrift ways, Atlanta which struggles at the gate and Florida who have been having troubles of late may want to think twice before spending gobs of cash in quest of a few good men.
Of course at the other end of the financial spectrum we'll probably find the Rangers who most likely consider that 50 million as walking around Broadway money. Maybe the Flyers and Islanders as well will put their upwardly mobile level to good use to seek out that missing ingredient for Stanley Cup success.
The Canadian teams too must be looking at this free agency window as a potentially good one, with the Canadian dollar rising as it is, the revenues are going to be higher and the travel expenses into the US lower, making for a bit of extra cash to put into that 50 million cap. That might be enough to help Montreal convince Sheldon Souray to hang around Mount Royal for a while or provide the Leafs with a chance to find someone that might make the difference in 2007-08.
Bryan Murray freshly anointed as the new GM will test the waters for Ottawa, the first chance he'll get to mould this team more in his fashion.
Calgary will try to use their cap money to secure the kind of players that will fit into a new Mike Keenan system, while up the road in Edmonton, Kevin Lowe has vowed to be an active participant in the free agency sweepstakes.
Vancouver's Dave Nonis, having had a frustrating day last week at the amateur draft will be cautious with the Canucks money, looking for the right person to fill in one of the holes that he has to deal with this off season.
Whichever team can manipulate its figures to the fullest benefit will find the free agency mania an added bonus to team building, but it will be a fine line to work with trying to keep salaries somewhat sensible, while taking your team to another level of success.
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