There are currently seven teams who are over the in-season cap rules. The in-season cap for next season will be 83.5 million USD. The good news for those teams is that they have a 10% cap flexibility applied to their rosters during the off-season, so they still have time to determine their next move. Some teams are in considerably more trouble than others. In this article, we’ll look at all seven teams and their current financial situation.
7. Colorado Avalanche – 83.7 Million
The Colorado Avalanche are only 200,000 over the cap, with 19 of their 23 active roster spots filled. This won’t be a real issue for the Avalanche because, in all likelihood, they’ll be able to manage that amount by moving players on two-way contracts to their minor-league affiliates. In fact, the Avalanche probably still have more moves in their back pocket because start forward Gabriel Landeskog is set to miss the entirety of the 2023-2024 season with a right knee injury. The team will be able to place him on LTIR, and that seven million dollar cap relief allows the team to continue exploring further options to bolster their lineup for another serious cup run.
6. Vegas Golden Knights – 84.9 Million
The Vegas Golden Knights are coming off a historic season that landed them a Stanley Cup victory in the 2022-2023 NHL season. The Golden Knights, however, now find themselves 1,437,486 dollars over the cap. This might seem significant, but Vegas still has Robin Lehner on the books. With the re-signing of Adin Hill, it’s doubtful Lehner will be in Vegas at the start of the season. Lehner, who missed the entirety of 2022-23, will likely call it a career or find him playing somewhere other than Vegas. Once Lehner has been moved, that will give them five million dollars in cap flexibility needed to become cap compliant.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins – 85 Million
Guess who? Kyle Dubas. You’ll notice that the aforementioned hockey executive is on this list twice. This time, with his new team. The contracts Kyle Dubas are walking into aren’t on him, so you might wonder why I’m giving him a hard time here, but the truth is, Dubas is in decent shape to make the cap work. Between two-way contracts and the relatively small amount the team is over, they’re not far from ready for the season. In true Dubas fashion, though, he’s looking to make a move for Erik Karlsson. This move could potentially make the cap situation more challenging for the Penguins. Either way, it’s highly likely Dubas will make a move this off-season, and for that reason, the Penguin’s ability to be cap compliant this upcoming season will depend largely on what those moves are. Stay tuned.
4. Montreal Canadiens – 85.1 Million
The Montreal Canadiens are, truthfully, not in bad shape. This number may look high, but Carry Price still sits on Montreal’s books with a 10.5 million dollar cap hit. Once that contract gets out of the way, it will also open an additional roster spot for a team with 23 of 23 roster spots filled and 47 of their 50 contracts used. With the cap flexibility that will provide, Montreal will likely be able to make a few more roster moves even with Joel Edmundson’s cap retention still on the books for 1.75 Million and Karl Alzner’s buyout. It’s likely the Canadiens’ off-season isn’t done.
3. Vancouver Canucks – 87.1 Million
The Canucks are the first team on this list to potentially have to make moves they don’t want to make. The team can take a couple of different paths to reduce their cap by 3,616,528 USD. The Canucks can likely push their problem down the road by placing Tanner Pearson and Tucker Poolman on LTIR to start the season, with Pearson probably never returning. The team with those two moves could put themselves two million dollars under the cap limit. That said, if the team wants to solve their money issues, they need to consider making a bigger move. All signs point to that move being the movement of Conor Garland. This isn’t the first time that rumor has circulated, but the bill might finally be coming due, and if it doesn’t happen before the season starts, it would need to before bringing Poolman off LTIR.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning – 90 Million
The Tampa Bay Lightning being on this list will surprise exactly zero people. The Lightning are 6,577,500 USD over the cap but hold onto the Brent Seabrook contract they acquired via trade. This contract is worth 6.8 million dollars and will bring the Tampa Bay Lightning into cap compliance. The Lightning will remain tight on cap space from there and could still move a few minor pieces to give themselves some breathing room, but in all likelihood, they won’t be forced to should they choose to stay where they are.
Toronto Maple Leafs – 91.5 Million
As promised, Kyle Dubas is back. Before leaving the Maple Leafs, Dubas left the team with a massive mess of no-move clauses (NMC) and modified no-trade clauses (M-NTC). With three players holding an NMC making over 10 million dollars, the team feels the pinch of a tight salary cap. Making matters tighter, the Leafs have recently signed LW Tyler Bertuzzi to a 5.5 million dollar contract after his impressive work with the Boston Bruins. The Leafs will have to make a trade. With 5.6 million coming off the books once they move Jake Muzzin to LTIR, the Leafs are still several million dollars off. If the team can move Matt Murray, they can likely squeeze under the cap. It’s now up to Brad Treliving to figure out where to go from here.
All seven teams have a clear path back to cap compliance. The question remaining will be how they do it. Interested in learning more about the NHL Salary Cap situations of your favorite team? Visit our Cap section of the website powered by PuckPedia.com.