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Salary Cap set to soar and other news from the NHL GMs’ meetings

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None of the numbers are finalized, but they look promising.

Arizona Coyotes v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

The annual GMs meetings are going on in Florida right now and there has been some news.

First, in case you missed it a few days ago, the GMs decided they liked the status quo for emergency goalie rules.

Few events caused more counter-intuitive fan reactions than this one. The story of David Ayres was fun for everyone but us, and he is a great guy. The reality is, the GMs chose to look at it, not because of Toronto bias, but in spite of Toronto’s epic failure.

Everyone expected the Leafs to win that game by 10 goals when Ayres went in. If that likely outcome had occurred, the GMs might well have not been content to realize this is a very rare event that they didn’t need to worry about. If a Maple Leafs employee (and the rule seems to prohibit that, so they’ve worked around that somehow) had “given” the Leafs a win, it would not have looked good considering people managed to see Toronto bias in the Leafs losing horribly.

GMs look at things all the time. They discussed the emergency goalie rules after the last incident of this sort when Scott Foster played for Chicago. The assumption going in from fans that the NHL GMS were going to be the fun police was weird too because, usually, the GMs take no action on things until they’ve talked it over multiple times.

One thing they’ve looked at more than once is the offside rule, and they are now going to implement a “breaking the plane” rule for judging offsides.

These changes have to be agreed by the NHL and the NHLPA, like everything they decide at this level.

The GMs talked about safety, but they have always shown hesitancy in forcing players to wear this sort of equipment. Many players don’t like shot-blocking guards or kevlar socks.

The NHL is going to bring in their player tracking puck and jersey tags for the playoffs. Because the playoffs are for experimenting.

They tried this stuff out at the All-Star Game to mixed reviews.

And finally the cap prediction is in:

The reason for the range:

A multi-year cap is an interesting concept to negotiate, because the actual salary cap that gets used is based on real revenue numbers after the fact, and if a three-year projection is overly optimistic, once reality hits, the players may be howling at the small amount of escrow they get back. Forecasting the future is a risky business, which is why the NHL has always set the cap as late as possible. (Not because they’re lazy like Hockey Twitter decided last year.)

If the NHL thinks they’re about to enter a period of rising revenues, this might be the time to take that risk, though.

With a ceiling between $84 and $88 million, The Leafs would have between $6 and $10 million to add seven players to get to a 23-man roster. If all they need to add is depth players, that’s more than enough. Notable signings that might eat into that number more quickly are Travis Dermott, an RFA with no arbitration rights, and Ilya Mikheyev, an RFA with rights.

Mikheyev isn’t going to have the counting stats to make out big in an arbitration hearing and Dermott seems (to me) to be poised to accept his qualifying offer and leverage his arbitration rights in 2021 for a new deal, exactly like Andreas Johnsson did. So this might be a comfortable summer with a cap in that neighbourhood.

Any additional defencemen would need to either be inexpensive or would bump a forward off the roster. So, in reality, the Leafs are in the same position they’ve been in for years. They aren’t as broke as they used to be, but they still can’t afford a new car.

In years past, the cap numbers are finalized right around the end of the playoffs. Don’t be surprised if they do it sooner this year after all the complaints last year.