Show me the money: Salary cap increased to $44M

NEW YORK -- The NHL salary cap was increased to $44 million as expected, the league and players' association said Tuesday.

The increase is about $5 million per team. The minimum also increased to $28 million, up from $21.5 this past season. The new midpoint will be $36 million.

The cap is up because league-wide revenues totaled more than $2.1 billion, exceeding preseason projections of $1.8 billion. The league and union signed off on the new cap last Friday but waited until Tuesday to announce it officially.

The free-agent signing period starts Saturday.

The NHL just completed its first season with a salary cap system. It was the major sticking point in the lockout that forced the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 campaign. The players' association had said it would never accept a salary cap but relented last summer to get a deal done.