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The NHL's recovery from the lockout has been so strong that Commissioner Gary Bettman informed owners at Monday's board of governors meeting that he is projecting the cap will go up 11.9% to about $71 million.
Bettman cautioned that the number was preliminary. "We are estimating on estimates," he said.
But it is welcome news for the many NHL teams struggling to stay under the cap this season.
"If it resembles that (figure) or it's close to that, then it's an indication the league is very healthy and clearly moving in the right direction," Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said.
The cap was at $64.3 million this season, and more than half of the league's 30 teams will end up within a million dollars of the ceiling. The limit was $70.2 million last season.
"We try to give people a sense of where we think it'll come out, but it's subject to a whole host of issues -- ultimately how much revenue is generated, where the Canadian dollar is, because we convert to U.S. dollars," Bettman said. "If you want a rough, rough, rough ballpark, OK, but it could change."
Bettman says he watches the exchange rate every day and is aware of predictions that the Canadian dollar's value is going to decline.
"It's something we monitor, obviously," he said. "And sometimes we do some hedging. We're not just sitting there saying, 'Oh, isn't that interesting?' We try to deal with it."
Depending upon where the salary-cap ceiling ends up, the floor could be about $52 million.
Smaller-market teams don't seem concerned about the rising cap, particularly with league revenue rising. The league will get $5.2 billion Canadian (about $4.9 billion in U.S. currency) over the next 12 years from its new Canadian television deal with Rogers Communications. That was approved by the board Monday.
Six outdoor games also are expected to grow revenue significantly.
"The CBA works for our market," Winnipeg Jets owner Mark Chipman said. "Under the old agreement, we were precluded from revenue sharing because of where we ranked revenue-wise, and that's not the case anymore. It's a very, very workable model."
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