There’s great news coming down the road for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The NHL’s salary cap is projected to proliferate in 2024-25.
One of the most significant issues the Maple Leafs have faced since the impact of the pandemic is the damage lower NHL hockey revenues have had on the team’s plans and salary structure. Sure most NHL teams face complex salary-cap issues, especially if they are winning and are “forced” to pay their players accordingly.
However, the Maple Leafs’ salary structure is unique because so much of its salary cap expenditures have been focused on four players – what has been dubbed the Core Four. Those four players are Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. In addition, the team re-signed defenseman Morgan Rielly to a new salary of $7.5 million. He, too, becomes part of the highly-paid core.
Maple Leafs’ Fans Have Been Critical of Such Expensive Signings, But …
A large number of Maple Leafs’ fans have critiqued those expensive signings. Their critique is centred on the question: what team can pay so few players such high salaries? In addition, they’ve noted that those contracts have hurt the team’s ability to field a solid roster.
However, these fans fail to realize that no one could have predicted a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic that would force people home. Had the salary cap continued upward as it was before the pandemic, the salaries would have been covered by the NHL’s logical decisions to increase salary-cap space.
How can anyone blame an organization for following the best information they had at the time? Who could have anticipated a pandemic and the historical impact of the disruption of everyday life?
The Specific Salary-Cap Good News
It’s great news about the rise in the salary cap. The pandemic shortened the 2019-20 season, and NHL revenues dropped like gravity. Since then, the salary cap has only been climbing upward only slowly. For the 2020-21 season and the 2021-22 season, no new money was added to the cap. Each team’s upper limit was $81.5 million.
The 2022-23 salary cap will move up $1 million to $82.5 million. In the 2023-24 season, the NHL’s estimate is $83.5 million. Now the news is that the salary cap might be jumping upward more quickly than expected.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly reports that the salary cap could jump up for the 2024-25 season. In speaking with both Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek during a recent NHL media tour in Europe, Daly reported that the salary cap would go up earlier than previously noted.
Daly said: “I’ve seen some preliminary estimates recently which would make me more optimistic on the cap going up sooner whether that’s in two seasons or three seasons, I think it’s more likely than not two seasons rather than three.”
NHL Players’ Escrow Are Catching Up
The NHL’s CBA calls for players and the owners split revenue. When the 2019-20 NHL regular season abruptly ended, NHL players’ paydays continued. That created an imbalance in the 50/50 revenue split. The owners used escrow payments from players to cover some of the loss, and then kept salaries low with a stagnant salary cap that covered another part of their losses.
These escrow payments will continue until the NHL players’ debts are repaid. At the same time as the NHL players’ debts are being collected by escrow, other NHL revenue streams are expanding. It’s now believed the salary cap might rise to about $88.7 million.
That’s great news for the Maple Leafs.