Bettman: 2023-24 salary cap will increase by just $1 million

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed the league’s salary cap for 2023-24 would only increase by $1 million on Saturday.

The announcement put to rest recent rumors that the cap could be in line for a major boost this offseason, although the commissioner is confident the 2024 salary cap would take a more substantial jump.

The modest increase in the salary cap comes despite Bettman’s assertion that league revenue is expected to reach $6 billion in 2023-24.

An extra million will help teams like the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks, who perpetually struggle to stay cap-compliant but do little to change the trading landscape of a league known for falling behind the other ‘four big” North American sports in player salaries.

Connor McDavid, the most dominant forward in modern NHL history and perhaps the best team sport athlete in the world, is currently the highest paid player in the league. McDavid earns $12.5 million AAV and signed one of four $100 million contracts in NHL history in 2018.

For comparison, James McCann of the MLB Baltimore Orioles and Robert Covington of the NBA Los Angeles Clippers make nearly identical amounts for mediocre contributions to their respective sports. McCann’s is the 113th highest salary in its league, while Covington’s comes in at 112th.

From a sporting point of view, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be the team most affected by the news.

Star center Auston Matthews is eligible to negotiate an extension starting this summer. He will probably sign the most lucrative contract in NHL history.

Matthews, the 2021-22 Hart Trophy winner, and his representation reportedly noted Bettman’s suggestion that the cap will rise much more in the summer of 2024.

That makes Toronto’s new general manager Brad Treliving’s job of dissuading the American from testing free agency that much more complicated.

Other 2024 free agents who could resist big raises include Sebastian Aho, Jake Guentzel and Connor Hellebuyck.

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