NHL Cap : Who Will Be Movers and Shakers In Trades And Free Agency?

The NHL cap ceiling has been set at approximately $73 million. What impact will that have on teams as free agency and the trade market heat up this week?

e NHL and NHLPA announced last week that they used the full 5% escalator to keep the salary cap from going down. That move has set the salary cap at $73 million for the coming season, and that’s got several teams scrambling to make moves to stay under the cap and simultaneously improving their team.

So who will be the big movers and shakers in free agency and the trade market this week? Here’s an overview of where teams are currently, per GeneralFanager:

2016-2017 Cap
Dallas Stars Have Cap Room

The Stars have about $13.6 million in cap space, without RFAs Valeri Nichushkin and Jamie Oleksiak signed. Nichushkin is likely to get a small raise, and I would expect that Oleksiak would stay at around the same as he was last season (he didn’t do anything on the ice last season that made me believe he deserves a raise).

It’s possible that the Stars will sign their two RFAs and call their summer done, with the reigns of the blueline being handed over to the youth movement this coming season. They’ll utilize some of their young forwards to fill in for the losses of veteran forwards such as Vernon Fiddler and Patrick Eaves. It will also allow some of the NHL-ready prospects in the AHL to battle for roster spots in training camp. As well, they’ll leave themselves with plenty of cap space to work with should a trade make sense in-season.

It is also equally possible that the Stars try to make a move on the trade market to get help with the blueline and/or goaltending. General manager Jim Nill has historically made his big trade in Dallas right prior to the trade deadline opening up, and he also likes to do them on Fridays at around 5 PM. The only other thing I can predict in terms of Nill making a trade is that it is unlikely there will be much smoke before there is fire on the trade target, with Nill keeping his moves close to the vest.

Movers and Shakers

The Pittsburgh Penguins will need to shed some salary to get under the cap.

The Boston Bruins have plenty of cap space and only have 14 players under contract, so they will need to fill some holes to ice the minimum 20 players needed by the start of the year. The New Jersey Devils, Arizona Coyotes, and Carolina Hurricanes will need to take on some salary just to reach the salary cap floor. I’d expect all three of those teams to make some signings this summer.

 Teams such as the Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks, and Los Angeles Kings may look to shed some salary to give themselves some additional cap space to lure a big free agent or trade target, as they’re bumping up against the salary cap with roster spots to be filled.

Then there are those on record as wanting to overhaul or move some key pieces. Whether it’s due to the upcoming expansion draft, an underperforming roster, or whether they need some injection in scoring or defense, teams like the New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild, and Vancouver Canucks will all be evaluating the trade and free agency market to improve their current roster.

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