Just in time for free-agent season, the NHL's salary cap will increase significantly for the second consecutive year.
The league and the NHL Players' Association announced Friday that teams will be allowed to spend up to $50.3 million US on player salaries next season, up from $44 million in 2006-07.
The NHL's salary-cap increase gives teams more room to sign free agents like Chris Drury, who hits the open market on Sunday.
(Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
The extra cash will come in handy for teams looking to sign free agents, who hit the open market at noon ET on Sunday. Chris Drury and Daniel Brière of the Buffalo Sabres, Sheldon Souray of the Montreal Canadiens, and Ryan Smyth of the New York Islanders are among those expected to draw plenty of interest.
With the salary "floor" set at $16 million below the cap each season, teams will be required to spend a minimum of $34.3 million on players in 2007-08.
The new minimum is less than $5 million below the NHL's first salary cap, which was set at $39 million for the 2005-06 season, when the league and the union returned from a year-long lockout.
The main sticking point of the work stoppage was the owners' insistence on a salary cap and the players' unwillingness to accept one.
Despite lagging television ratings and hockey's failure to gain traction in much of the lucrative U.S. market, the NHL's salary cap, which is tied to league revenues, has grown by almost 29 per cent in the two years since the lockout.With files from the Canadian Press