A $69 million salary cap wasn't what most NHL general managers expected, and it's a hurdle many big-budget teams will have to overcome.
Initial estimates presented at December's board of governors meeting indicated next season's ceiling could be around $71 million. The league and Players' Association announced the $69 million figure before the start of the draft.
"I think for the most part it's less than what a lot of people projected," Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving said.
That's bad news for the teams that like to spend right to the cap, which rose just $4.7 million from 2013-14.
"I'm concerned, but I think it's a challenge we can overcome," Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said. "It was supposed to be 70, it's 69, might've been 68. We planned for all those things. We have a challenge right now. It's just another component of the challenge."
Dave Nonis didn't express similar concerns because, right now at least, the Toronto Maple Leafs aren't squeezed against that $69 million limit.
"We would've loved if it was higher," Nonis said. "We have a lot of room right now. It might change how we allocate some of those funds, but we're not a team that's up against that 69 million. We have to look at how we're going to spend it and what we're going to do with our players. It wasn't a shock and it's not going to hurt us."
That might change in time as unrestricted free agency begins and the Leafs either re-sign centre Dave Bolland or are forced to look elsewhere for a replacement. Other parts of the roster are going to need to be filled out with limited funds, as well.
Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish hopes that his team can benefit from the cap being lower than expected.
"It's going to mean that there are going to be some good players potentially coming back via trade and we're in a pretty enviable position to be able to take on some of those contracts," MacTavish said. "Teams, it's unlikely that they're going to give players away, but some of them will be looking for some cap space, and those are really the style of deals that we've looked to make over the last little while where we give up a few assets, take the contract and the cap space. So we'll be trying to do some of that."
MacTavish thinks the $69 million cap could be "problematic" to teams that went over bonus overage allowance last season and as a result will have that money dumped into next year's cap. That includes the Bruins, who are in a precarious spot now in regard to re-signing winger Jarome Iginla.
"It may impact us in being able to sign Jarome," Chiarelli said. "If we can't sign Jarome, we're going to find a good player at that position. We feel all our young guys and our current players are going to get better."
The cap floor was set at $51 million, up from $44 million last season.