The NHL and NHLPA announced a signed memorandum of understanding on Monday to extend the collective bargaining agreement through the 2025-26 season and agree to Phases 3 and 4 of the Return-to-Play plan the NHLPA’s Executive Board has approved all of it late Tuesday night. Under the new deal, the upper limit of the salary cap will be held flat at $81.5 million and remain there for the upcoming seasons.
The financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic will have a huge impact on forward Taylor Hall and the plans he had following the postseason, when he hoped to enjoy a fun run at free agency. Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News believes Hall will lose big due to the flattened salary cap, especially since he was looking to test the waters as an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
Hall was hoping to go from team to team and get the highest bid available, however, it might not be as high or might not be busy on the market as teams might unable to bid on his services.
Here is how Kennedy puts it:
“How much would you pony up for a recent Hart Trophy winner? Hall was the league MVP in 2017-18 and he’s still just 28 years old. He’s got speed and we know he can put the puck in the net, skills that make him very desirable in today’s game. He’s also testing UFA waters for the first time in his career, so this should be a biggie. But how many teams would be able to give Hall $9 million (or more) per season right now, presumably on a long-term deal? There are teams like Dallas and Vancouver which surprisingly have a decent amount of cap space right now, but this might not be the free-for-all Hall was hoping for.”
Last week, TSN’s analyst Craig Button of TSN suggested that Hall could choose to chase the Stanley Cup, like Marian Hossa did in 2009, heading to the Detroit Red Wings (and losing to his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, brutal!) and then with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 when he finally hoisted the trophy (and twice again after that in 2013 and 2015).
He mentioned that the Colorado Avalanche could be his next destination.
We just don’t know how much the salary cap will impact teams shopping on the free market. Kennedy also mentioned Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues, goalies Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks and Robin Lehner of the Vegas Golden Knights, and Sami Vatanen, of the Carolina Hurricanes as other free agent victims of the flattened salary cap…
For Hall, Kennedy ends his analysis the best way possible: “On the bright side, the winger is coming off an RFA deal that netted him $42 million – so you don’t have to feel too bad.”
So, yeah, let’s not feel too bad.