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GM Meetings

GMs get range for 2016-17 salary cap

Prospect development also discussed; no proposals for changing draft lottery

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The framework for a potential expansion draft highlighted the final day of the 2016 NHL General Managers meetings. That wasn't all they talked about before departing.

Here are five more things we learned Wednesday from the Boca Beach Club:

1. Here's your 2016-17 salary cap projection

The GMs were told the salary cap for next season could rise to $74 million if the NHL Players' Association enacts its growth factor clause, which is typically a 5 percent inflator to the cap. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the cap would stay flat at its current $71.4 million if the NHLPA opts not to trigger an escalator.

The Players' Association has enacted the growth factor clause for all but one season (2006-07) since the cap was instituted for the 2005-06 season.

"Our practice with Players' Association has been over the last couple years to try to sit down and talk about a reasonable projection for revenue growth and build in that inflator," Daly said. "So that's what I'd say, it's somewhere probably between the current cap and $74 million."

The number is still a projection because of a variety of factors, including a final analysis of the League's revenue growth and the impact of the Canadian dollar, which was approximately 75 cents on the U.S. dollar on Tuesday, according to CBC.ca.

"It's nice to have a number so you can plan," Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray said. "There's still a little projection, but I think we're on the right track."

2. What happened to those ideas for draft lottery changes?

Some GMs headed into the meetings hoping to be part of discussions on how to change the NHL Draft Lottery to limit the number of times a team can win the No. 1 pick, a response to the Edmonton Oilers winning the lottery four times in the past six years. Those discussions never happened.

The GMs were given a reminder Wednesday of how the draft lottery will work this year, but no one brought up ideas for changes to it going forward.

"This is the first year for giving away the first three picks, so let's see how this unfolds before we deem it a failure, which it's not going to be," Murray said.

The 2016 NHL Draft Lottery will be the first time the first three picks in the draft will be determined by a lottery. It will also be the first time the team that finishes 30th can fall as low as the No. 4 pick. In the past, the team that finished 30th was guaranteed the No. 2 pick if it did not win the first pick.

The Oilers would have a 13.5 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick again if the lottery were held Wednesday because they are 29th in the League. The 30th place team, currently the Toronto Maple Leafs, has a 20 percent chance of winning the lottery.

"As I said to [Oilers GM] Peter Chiarelli, if he wins again, then we might have to tweak it," Murray said, laughing.

3. Holtby could get at least 10 more starts

Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby's history of feeling at his best when he plays regularly could help him in his chase to break Martin Brodeur's single-season wins record.

Holtby needs six wins to tie Brodeur's record of 48. The Capitals, who clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Tuesday, have 13 games remaining. Washington GM Brian MacLellan said he anticipates Holtby starting 10 of those games.

Video: CAR@WSH: Holtby makes pad save to keep it scoreless

"The important thing is for us to get into a good rhythm, be playing the right way, and have him as sharp as he can be going into the playoffs," MacLellan said. "He's a guy that seems to function better when he's playing a lot. Over the last two seasons at least, if he's playing every second day he seems to be more comfortable or sharper. We're going to be sensitive to he's not going to be sharp if he's not playing enough."

4. GMs hear about LaFontaine's meetings

The NHL informed the GMs about the discussions it is having with junior leagues in Canada and the United States, European leagues, the NCAA, Hockey Canada and USA Hockey to investigate ways to make a prospect's path to the NHL more efficient.

Hockey Hall of Fame member Pat LaFontaine, the NHL vice president of hockey development and community affairs, has been meeting with representatives from the various leagues and associations to see if any common ground can be found.

"I perked up," Murray said. "I think there's a lot of interesting stuff in getting the U.S. and Canada not necessarily in lockstep in having the same league or anything, but having the same overall goal and that's to develop players. Something good can come of this."

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week at the 2016 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference that the NBA and NFL have "vertical routes" for prospects (high school, college, pros), but the NHL has a "spider web of options."

Auston Matthews, the favorite to be the No. 1 pick at the 2016 NHL Draft, just finished playing professionally in Switzerland in his draft season.

"I think it's a great idea to have those discussions to see if we're heading into the right direction as far as the future of our game and the future of grassroots of hockey," Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon said. "I think it's a great idea that they all got together and talked about whether a kid can be drafted at a certain age, or if he can go to college, play junior and then go to college."

Tallon said he's in favor of raising the draft age for a prospect to 19. It is 18.

"An 18-year-old draft is tough for our scouts," he said. "A lot can go on from 18 to 20. Some guys are late bloomers. Some guys are early bloomers. It makes it more difficult. We want to make sure we protect the young man coming up who is the future of the game."

5. Commissioner and the CTE issue

Commissioner Bettman said it's inappropriate to compare football to hockey when asked for a response to a NFL representative acknowledging a link between the degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and head trauma related to playing football.

"Well, first of all, I don't feel that it's either necessary or appropriate for me to comment on what the NFL either says or does," Commissioner Bettman said. "Secondly, I think it's fairly clear that playing hockey isn't the same as playing football. And as we've said all along, we're not going to get in a public debate on this."

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