Puck Daddy - NHL

What does $1 million buy you in today's NHL?

How about a slightly used Aaron Voros(notes), if you're the Anaheim Ducks? Or that old standby Ruslan Fedotenko(notes) if you're the New York Rangers?

Point is that the salary cap rising either $2 million or $3 million next season could mean the difference between adding a veteran or promoting a novice. It could mean the difference between cap hell and breathing room. It could mean that itty bitty extra space for a team to re-sign a key player that's about to go unrestricted ... unless, of course, you have an internal salary cap that keeps your checkbook in a locked box at the bottom of a local lake (*cough*Dallas Stars*cough*).

Over the weekend, Pierre LeBrun of ESPN wrote that the salary cap is expected to be "up modestly" in his preview of this week's Board of Governors meetings in Palm Beach, Fla.:

It might surprise some that the cap isn't expected to go down given all the empty seats in places like Phoenix, Dallas, Florida, Long Island, Atlanta and Columbus. But the league has seen growth in other areas, particularly in new media and most relevantly in the Canadian dollar. The Canadian and U.S. dollars have essentially been at par all season long, and with the six Canadian teams representing between 30-35 percent of league-wide team revenues ... well, you get the picture.

Yeah, the picture is that if the Loonie gets shot then we're back to the Original Six in about two seasons ...

David Shoalts of the Globe & Mail reported some hard numbers on that cap increase:

Word around the governors' annual meetings Monday morning was that if the NHL players exercise their 5-per-cent inflator right, the cap could go up by as much as $3-million (all currency U.S.). This would bring next season's cap to $62.4-million per team from this season's $59.4-million. Originally, it was thought the cap might go up by about $2-million.

... An increase will not be greeted with universal applause from the governors, though. If the cap hits $62.4-million, that means the floor, or the minimum payroll allowed, will be about $46-million. That will be a tough one to swallow for the league's low revenue teams.

Especially considering that four of them -- Atlanta Thrashers, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers -- are under that number now via Cap Geek (keeping in mind injury exceptions and salaries stashed in Hershey).

Anyhoo, sounds like the cap will climb thanks to the Canadian dollar. Which leaves us all with one question: How will Lou Lamoriello exceed it with a panicked, ham-fisted personnel decision next season?

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