The National Hockey League's salary cap is always a topic of discussion but that has never been more true than now in this pandemic influenced era of the league. Due to the financial blow the league has suffered as a result of the pandemic we now know that the NHL will be operating on a flat salary cap for the next two seasons, a decision on the part of the league that has already had significant ramifications in the offseason.
One of the ways the flat cap might influence the league moving forward however has been largely ignored, the influence on the expansion draft that will usher in the Seattle Kraken as the NHL's 32nd team. Less flexibility against the cap has meant that general manager's have been less able to prepare themselves this offseason for the upcoming expansion draft, and one need look no further than a team like the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, to see why. The Lightning have thus far been unable to move salary following their big victory and with no flexibility in the offseason they won't be able to bring in any players they may have prefered to expose in the expansion draft over some of their core.
Over the weekend NHL insider Pierre LeBrun spoke with the Seattle Kraken's general manager, former NHL star Ron Francis, and to my surprise Francis did admit that he feels the flat cap will give his team an edge in the upcoming draft.
“Well, I think certainly, that’s what we’re hoping,’” said Francis as per LeBrun's report.
“But I think there are pros and cons, right? Obviously, the cap being flat should be a benefit to us. But I think you saw a lot of teams doing some maneuvering this summer, whether it was buyouts, moving players for picks and stuff, to help alleviate some of their situations.”
Many felt that the Las Vegas Golden Knights and then general manager George McPhee fleeced a lot of the NHL's teams with some of the arrangements they made regarding the expansion draft, and there was an assumption that rival general managers would be better prepared this time around. Now however a general lack of flexibility around the league could very well mean that Ron Francis and the Kraken, who will literally have all of their cap space to work with heading into the expansion draft, will find themselves in a similarly advantageous situation.