Hockey Night in Canada

NHL salary cap going up

The NHL and its player's 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.

Just in time for free-agent season, the NHL's salary capwill 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 extra cash will come in handy for teams looking to sign free agents, who hit the open market atnoon 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 newminimumisless than$5 millionbelow the NHL's first salary cap, which wasset at $39 millionfor 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 andhockey'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