Today, the NHL has announced that the salary cap for next season will be $81.5 million.

Earlier projections had the cap at $83 million, and that’s the figure most people have been using for projections for next season. This slight decrease in that upper limit won’t affect very many teams, but the ones who care, might care a lot.

The bigger issue around the salary cap is the question of the so-called inflator. That figure is the amount the NHLPA must vote on and agree to. The purpose of the inflator is to pump up the salary cap over and above the 50% of Hockey Related Revenue projections, in a way that assumes the coming season’s actual revenues will outstrip projections.

The inflator has had the effect in the past of inflating UFA salaries, and also inflating the amount of escrow that is held back from all NHL salaries, and ultimately might never be repaid.

If you’re now totally, lost, you might need to go read this:

Escrow, cap inflators, and HRR; what does that all mean?

The players don’t like escrow, and they want to be paid their entire salary. It seems that the idea has finally taken hold that resisting the temptation to go for a big inflator and gamble on future revenues rising faster than projected is a way to ensure they get paid more.

The history of escrow amounts withheld, and then ultimately repaid years later when the final numbers are crunched shows why they don’t like it.

History of NHL Escrow

SeasonWithheldRefundedSalary Lost

The inflator isn’t the reason for escrow, but it is part of the reason it’s grown so big, and the amount refunded has not.

I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, how does the affect the Leafs?

The Leafs are very much one of the few teams for whom a difference of a few hundred thousand matters. The difference between the projected amount and the actual amount of the cap is a little more than one player in a not very significant role or on an ELC. So, it’s not ideal, but it’s not a big deal either, and this change had to come, and now is when it arrived.

The expectation is that the cap will rise in the future as US television contracts drive revenue up. When that happens, the Leafs can start spending like drunken Islanders on their fourth line again. Until then, I’m trusting to Brandon Pridham’s spreadsheets but since the Leafs made a cap-clearing deal today, have a look at it as it is right now:

Maple Leafs Salary Cap calculation as of June 22

NameCap Hit (or Qualifying Offer)Days in NHL If 2-wayProrated Cap HitRegular Season Cap Hit
One-Way Contracts
Auston Matthews11,634,00011,634,00011,634,000
John Tavares11,000,00011,000,00011,000,000
William Nylander6,962,3666,962,3666,962,366
Nazem Kadri4,500,0004,500,0004,500,000
Zach Hyman2,250,0002,250,0002,250,000
Connor Brown2,100,0002,100,0002,100,000
Trevor Moore775,000775,000775,000
Nic Petan775,000775,000775,000
Morgan Rielly5,000,0005,000,0005,000,000
Nikita Zaitsev4,500,0004,500,0004,500,000
Jake Muzzin4,000,0004,000,0004,000,000
Justin Holl675,000675,000675,000
Calle Rosen750,000750,000750,000
Frederik Andersen5,000,0005,000,0005,000,000
Garrett Sparks750,000750,000750,000
Nathan Horton5,300,0005,300,0005,300,000
Two-Way Contracts
Frederik Gauthier675,000180675,000675,000
Travis Dermott863,333180863,333863,333
Ilya Mikheyev925,00000925,000
Egor Korshkov925,00000
Pierre Engvall925,00000
Jeremy Bracco842,50000
Semyon Der Arguchintsev783,33300
Mason Marchment767,50000
Adam Brooks759,16700
Dmytro Timashov694,44400
Rasmus Sandin894,16700
Timothy Liljegren863,33300
Joe Duszak800,00000
Mac Hollowell799,76600
Teemu Kivihalme792,50000
Jesper Lindgren775,83300
Andreas Borgman700,00000
Ian Scott805,83300
Joseph Woll800,00000
Kasimir Kaskisuo675,000622,500
Qualifying Offers
Andreas Johnsson862,875180862,875
Kasperi Kapanen874,125180874,125
Mitch Marner874,125874,125
Michael Carcone735,00000
Gabriel Gagne735,00000
Nicholas Baptiste826,87500
Jordan Subban715,00000
Eamon McAdam874,12514,856
Salary Cap81,500,00081,500,000
10% overage8,150,000
Cap Space18,301,82013,065,301

I’m leaving out the rumoured deals for Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen until they are final, and this isn’t a complete roster, of course. If you thought trading Patrick Marleau solved everything, well, it’s still a squeeze in many ways.