NHL Salary Cap may increase by $4 million, New York Rangers could use every penny

The New York Rangers have their fingers crossed that the escrow debt owed by the players will be fully paid this season. That would cause a jump in the cap from the previous estimated rise of $1 million to a possible $4 million.

“We believe that there is a good probability that the escrow will be paid off this season,” Commissioner Bettman said. “It may not be, but it’s going to be close we think, which means the flat cap will be replaced by a bigger increase. Revenue is pretty vibrant. We probably did $5.4 billion in [hockey-related revenues] this past season, which is actually about a half a billion more than we projected a year ago when we were starting things up. Things are good.”

NHL.com

Previous NHL Salary Cap projections:

  • $83.5 million in 2023-24
  • $87.5 million to $88 million in 2024-25
  • $92 million in 2025-26 (estimated)

If things continue to progress as Bettman states, that initial $83.5 million for next summer could jump to $86.5 million.

New York Rangers could use the salary cap boost

NEW YORK RANGERS K'ANDRE MILLER
Oct 13, 2022; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller (79) during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers will have the following players become restricted free agents in 2023:

  • Alexis Lafrenière
  • Filip Chytil (arbitration rights)
  • Julien Gauthier (arbitration rights)
  • K’Andre Miller
  • Libor Hajek (arbitration rights)
  • Vitali Kravtsov
  • Zac Jones

It should also be noted that Ryan Reaves and his $1.75 million cap hit will be off the books. In addition, Jaroslav Halak’s $1.5 million is gone too, but the Rangers will need that money for another backup.

The Blueshirts are also currently saddled with $3,427,778 in buyout penalties. Some of those are from buyouts that occurred all the way back in 2017 which includes Dan Girardi, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Tony DeAngelo.

GM Chris Drury is currently looking at having around $18 million in space next summer. That’s based on regaining the $3.4 million in dead cap space, Reaves’ $1.75 million coming off the books, and the initial projected rise of just $1 million to the cap.

Not enough to re-sign key RFA’s like Lafrenière, Miller, and Chytil.

However, if the escrow is paid off and the Rangers get that extra space, you’re now talking nearly $21 million for next summer to start. Still not enough, but every penny helps.

New York Rangers will still have cap issues

Next summer is still going to be a hard one, and the Rangers will have to use some of their younger players on ELC’s to fill roles vacated by vets that will likely be gone as UFAs.

We already mentioned Reaves, but Sammy Blais ($1.525M) could be gone and off the books as well. Ryan Carpenter ($750K), Jimmy Vesey ($750K), and Dryden Hunt ($762K) are not likely to return either.

On the RFA side, both Gauthier and Hajek will either be traded or let go come next summer. As to the fate’s of Zac Jones and Vitali Kravtsov that remains to be seen.

The Rangers already have Jones’ replacement with Matthew Robertson in Hartford, who is till on his ELC. And Brennan Othmann will be on the team next season which should spell Kravtsov’s end.

Bottom line is the Rangers need every possible penny in cap space to re-sign Lafrenière, Miller, and Chytil. Even if the escrow is paid off and they get that additional cap space it’s not going to be enough.

How will the Rangers sign them? That’s why you hear the term ‘cap squeeze’ used so often when discussing the team’s future.

It’s not an easy problem to solve and likely means certain players like Barclay Goodrow, who has a modified trade clause could be at risk next summer. Trading him will be tough as he’ll have four years remaining on his deal with a cap hit of $3.6 million.

Editor’s note: Updated 2023-24 cap space to include salaries coming off the books for RFAS

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