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NHL, NHLPA agree to small bump in salary cap to $73 million

The NHL's salary cap is going up, although not by a whole lot.

The NHL and NHL Players' Association negotiated and announced Tuesday night a new cap number of $73 million for next season, up just slightly from the $71.4 million it was this past year.

That was up just slightly from the $69 million it was for the 2014-15 season.

The cap floor is $54 million, up from $52.8 million last season.

With the cap barely rising, some cap-challenged teams might have to trade some players to get under the $73 million mark before next season begins, although it could have been worse had the cap not increased at all. Sources at both the NHL and NHLPA on Tuesday night said both sides agreed to include the 5 percent "growth factor" into the calculation, an option within the collective bargaining agreement and one that has been used most years, including last year.

One source suggested that had both sides added just a 2.5 percent growth factor, the cap would have stayed flat; had there been no growth factor at all, the cap likely would have gone down.

After years of large cap growth, the number has stagnated the past two years in large part because of the fall of the Canadian dollar, with the seven Canadian NHL teams having a huge effect on overall league revenue.

At issue within NHLPA ranks over the past few weeks was whether to push for the full 5 percent growth factor that most years has been added to the cap calculation. The downside is the percentage of escrow that players have been paying the past couple of years. Players paid out 16 percent to 18 percent of their paychecks this past season (16 percent until the end of January and 18 percent after that point).

Escrow payments are a measure to ensure that players don't take up more than the 50 percent of hockey-related revenue they are allotted. So the internal debate among players is whether to push the salary cap as high as possible for this summer's crop of agents looking for jobs -- or perhaps not put in the 5 percent growth factor, keep the cap lower and therefore pay less escrow.

But the NHLPA opted after much thought to have the salary cap go up as much as possible.