The expectation was that the cap would drop significantly next season because this season's revenues were expected to fall because of the recession. But the strong Canadian dollar means the six Canadian teams, which provide 25 per cent of the NHL's income, all have strong revenues, which keeps the overall figure higher than expected.
There have been some hints of this possibility, and while it's always prudent to take rosy NHL projections with a shaving of ice, past mid-season cap projections have been fairly close to the mark. If the league powers are not expecting a big drop at this point as the traditional low-attendance period of the season nears a close, then I won't be counting on one.
Which means one meme that has been tossed around these parts is in jeopardy: That there might be enough teams needing to cut a big contract this summer that the Islanders could use their cap space to steal a good player from one of those teams in cap duress.
Now, teams are still tight against the cap, so there could be a few (dubious quality?) contracts unloaded or, in the least, a smaller number of bidders for free agents who Snow might bid on. And Snow will have to spend somewhere: as much as $10 million in pending UFAs (such as Doug Weight, Jon Sim, Andy Sutton, Richard Park, Martin Biron) comes off the Islanders' cap hit this summer. But to expect a windfall of talented, heavy contracts to hit the trade market is probably unrealistic. And that's not even getting into the idea that we don't know how much Charles Wang is prepared to spend on a franchise whose attendance remains low and whose home continues to be uncertain.
Speaking of Wang and a muddy future, from the same Shoalts/Globe and Mail article:
Charles Wang sounded a gloomy note about his delayed hopes for approval of the billion-dollar Lighthouse Project ... News that the owners of a proposed new arena in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the NBA’s New Jersey Nets sold more than $500-million in bonds for the project this week resulted in speculation Wang might move the Islanders there. The arena is scheduled to be completed in 2012.
Wang sidestepped the question but did not deny the possibility. "I don’t want to do this in the press," he said.
As for the long delayed Lighthouse Project, which was cleared by Nassau County but now awaits approval from Hempstead, Wang shrugged when asked if it would move forward.
"Yeah, I hope so," he said. "Whatever happens, happens."
This is a national (Canadian) reporter touching base with Wang for updates that Islanders followers are already well aware of. So that "gloomy note" is an outsider's impression of a situation that hasn't (publicly) changed much since opening night -- for our purposes, it's not new. Props to Wang, I guess, for sticking to his pledge to stop fighting the issue out in the press.
But for the team, that leaves us in a holding pattern when projecting the future.
We don't even know if Wang would increase payroll if the Lighthouse Project were approved. Will he be inclined to increase it this summer if the team's future location is still up in the air?