NHL cap ceiling set at $69 million; bad news for Bruins

NHL cap ceiling set at $69 million; bad news for Bruins
June 27, 2014, 8:00 pm
Share This Post

PHILADELPHIA -- The NHL and NHLPA finally announced the salary cap for the 2014-15 NHL season, and it’s not good news for a Boston Bruins team that’s already facing financial hardship. The two sides announced that the salary cap’s Lower Limit will be $51 million, with an Adjusted Midpoint of $60 million and an Upper Limit (ceiling) of $69 million. Many had hoped the salary cap ceiling would be closer to $70 or $71 million, and the lower cap limit leaves a handful of teams like the Bruins in serious cap trouble.

The Bruins have roughly $63.3 million committed to next season’s roster (taking into account the $4 million Marc Savard sum that will be put on LTI at the beginning of the season), and still have to re-sign restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith along with at least three other forwards and Matt Bartkowski. They now have roughly $5.7 million to finalize next season’s roster, and may have to perform some salary cap voodoo in order to be cap compliant prior to placing Savard on the injured list.

It’s not exaggeration to say the Bruins are facing the worst salary cap situation of any team in the NHL approaching free agency on July 1. Despite all of this, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli is trying to keep a positive outlook on things.

“I feel good. Our younger guys are getting better, and we’re still in a real good spot as far as contending. If we can’t do anything July 1 to July 5, that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to do anything,” said Chiarelli. “Everyone tries to jam this stuff into this [draft] weekend, and it usually never happens. You got to be patient.

“You got to pick away at this stuff, as far as team-building. So it may happen July 5. We may try to do something in September. We may try to do something in November. This kind of stuff — we’re always trying to improve our team. I know I always say that, but we actually are. We’ve got alternatives that are good hedges if we don’t get something done right away.”

The big issue is a $4.75 million bonus overage penalty on next season’s cap levied in the Bruins for bonus money paid out to Jarome Iginla, Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton last season. Clearly, in hindsight, Peter Chiarelli was “all in” going for it last season by signing Iginla to the one year deal, and didn’t get the playoff result to match the big price he’s going to pay this year.

“I’m concerned but I think there are some challenges that we can overcome. It may impact us being able to sign Jarome, and if we can’t sign Jarome then we’ll find a good player for that position. We still have all our young guys and our current players are going to get better. It was supposed to be 70 (million). It might have been 69 (million) and it might have been 68 (million). We planned for all of those things. We have a challenge right now, and that’s just another component of the challenge.”

The B’s salary cap situation is exactly why one or two names, like Chris Kelly, Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk, Brad Marchand or others, could be traded prior to next season. Such moves would give Boston some cap flexibility going into next season. Losing another couple of million dollars in cap space just made Chiarelli’s job that much more difficult this summer.