For the first time since the NHL returned from the work stoppage in 2005-06, the League will not see a significant increase in the salary cap.
The NHL and NHLPA agreed Friday -- on the same day the Entry Draft will take place in Montreal -- to set the cap number for 2009-10 at $56.8 million, up just $100,000 from $56.7 million in 2008-09. The floor is $40.8 million and the mid-range limit is $48.8 million.
When the League first introduced the cap in 2005-06, teams were forced to keep salaries under $39 million. That figure rose to $44 million the following season and jumped to $50.3 million in '07-08 before rising again for the just-concluded season.
With the cap ceiling remaining almost where it was last season, general managers will be trying to find ways to improve their teams without the benefit of the extra room they've enjoyed in previous years. Teams expected to have more space to maneuver -- such as the Montreal Canadiens
, Los Angeles Kings
and New York Islanders
-- could have a decided advantage over teams up against the cap -- such as the Detroit Red Wings
and Philadelphia Flyers
and Boston Bruins
-- when free agency gets under way July 1.