No salary cap increase for NHL next season?

Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews, left, and Patrick Kane, smile as they listen to the media during a news conference at the United Center in Chicago, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. The Blackhawks recently agreed to eight-year contract extensions with for their star players. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Like the price of stamps, the NHL’s salary cap ceiling seemed destined to grow forever higher.

So what happens if it doesn’t rise next season?

Well, Larry Brooks of the NY Post reports that NHL GMs are preparing for that very thing, as the Canadian dollar’s decline impacts the cap. He said at least three contract extensions have been affected by the notion that next year’s cap might be stagnant.

From the Post:

Given the fixation of escrow under which the players currently are having 14 percent of their pay withheld, it certainly is a realistic possibility the NHLPA will not exercise a 5-percent escalator for 2015-16. That might mean a stagnant cap in the $69 million range, which falls some $5 million to $6 million shy of previous optimistic projections.

That would mean that clubs facing a cap crunch now cannot responsibly count on relief for next season. That has put a hold on extension negotiations.

Pretty wild, when you consider some estimates had the cap rising by $12 million (!) next season.

The Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning would already feel the pinch of next year’s cap if it remains around $69 million. The Montreal Canadiens ($10 million in space, 16 players under contract), Boston Bruins ($12.5 million, 14 players), Minnesota Wild ($12.4 million, 15 players) and St. Louis Blues (15 players, $12.6 million) might also have tough decisions to make if the cap doesn’t rise.