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What will a $71 million cap mean for the Pittsburgh Penguins?

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Gary Bettman tells the Board of Governors the cap next year is going up, and they're shooting for a $71 million upper limit. What will this mean for the Pittsburgh Penguins?

Vincent Pugliese

Less than a year removed from a lockout, the NHL is seeing revenues soar, which will significantly push up the salary cap next season. From NHL.com

The salary cap for the 2014-15 season is projected to be approximately $71 million, a growth of more than 10 percent, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said at the League's Board of Governors meeting on Monday.

The salary cap for this season is $64.3 million after growing to $70.2 million during the 2012-13 season.

"We're looking at a cap in the $71 million range as an estimate," Commissioner Bettman said. "It's subject to change. It's very preliminary."

For the Pittsburgh Penguins, this news is very welcome. They're right at the salary cap limit this year and have a handful of pending unrestricted free agents (Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, Tomas Vokoun, Jussi Jokinen, Tanner Glass and Deryk Engelland) that they either need to re-sign, or replace. On top of that, Brandon Sutter and Simon Despres are two notable restricted free agents.

The Pens currently have $54.5 million for next season 2014-15 tied to 13 regular players. Those would be:

  • FORWARDS (7): Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Beau Bennett, Craig Adams
  • DEFENSEMEN (5): Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Rob Scuderi, Olli Maatta, Robert Bortuzzo
  • GOALTENDERS (1): Marc-Andre Fleury

They also have some defensive prospects like Brian Dumoulin, Derrick Pouliot and Scott Harrington who could be close to NHL-ready and are under contract. But since none are established NHL'ers, we'll leave them off these calculations for now.

A $71 million cap would leave about $16.5 million to work with, which will be important since as you can see above, they only have about half a roster of forwards. Jayson Megna is a restricted free agent and could also be added to the mix, and as mentioned, Brandon Sutter as an RFA can be brought back as well if they so choose.

And even though the Pens do have five defensemen and a host of prospects, they could still chose to bring back Orpik or Niskanen if they so chose, given the rising cap.

More space means more flexibility and for Pens GM Ray Shero, that flexibility gives freedom of choice. That opens options and should make for a stronger team. Of course, all the other teams around the league will also have the increased cap to work with too, but for the Penguins an increasing cap ought to help retain and attract good players.

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