NHL Rumors: Jets, Wild, Penguins, Salary Cap, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, outside of a few updates on player signings and trades, there’s also news on the NHL salary cap which, according to a report from NHL insider Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, is expected to rise $1 million to $82.5 million for the 2022-23 season. Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Jets might be running into salary cap problems and some moves could come as a result, the Minnesota Wild aren’t sure what to do with Kevin Fiala and the Pittsburgh Penguins are getting calls about one of their defensemen.

NHL Salary Cap to Increase Next Offseason

As per a report by Seravalli, the NHL’s salary cap is projected to climb $1 million next offseason. If so, it would mark the first rise in the NHL’s upper-limit since COVID-19 sent business operations into a tailspin.

Seravalli adds that this could trigger a “lag formula,” as agreed upon in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations which could see the salary cap climb $1 million more each offseason until the escrow balance owed to owners is paid off.

He adds:

Provided that revenue bounces back strongly in 2022-23, starting at $5.4 billion and reasonably increases year-over-year from there, NHL players can hope to pay off their billion dollar debt some time during the 2025-26 season. Because of that, the Collective Bargaining Agreement is likely to automatically extend through 2026-27, which would also mark the first season that players and teams could reasonably expect to realize a significant increase in the salary cap, with the cap linked back to actual revenue projections again for the first time since 2019-20.

Jets Need to Shed Salary?

After signing Paul Stastny and landing Brenden Dillon and Nate Schmidt in trades, the Winnipeg used a good chunk of their cap space to try and compete again this coming season. In the process, they’ve created a bit of a salary cap issue in respect to trying to get players like Andrew Copp, Neal Pionk and Logan Stanley signed.

Andrew Copp Winnipeg Jets
Andrew Copp, Winnipeg Jets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Murat Atest of The Athletic writes that this could lead to a couple of moves to free up funds, and possibly an unwanted trade. He notes:

The only place on the roster I’ve listed to save even $500,000 would be to waive or trade Nathan Beaulieu ($1.25 million) and replace him with Sami Niku ($725,000) but that’s an on-ice decision contrary to Winnipeg’s own history. It seems far more likely that the club moves on from Niku, who got into just six games last season.

source – ‘How are the Jets going to fit Andrew Copp, Neal Pionk and Logan Stanley’s new contracts under the salary cap?’ – Murat Ates – The Athletic – 08/02/2021

In the end, if these smaller moves don’t work, the team might try to sign Copp to a shorter-term deal so the Jets don’t need to move additional pieces. If he’s not willing to do that, perhaps a trade is possible since the Jets don’t want to risk losing him for nothing next summer.

Related: Lightning News & Rumors: Bogosian, Colton, Point, & More

Fiala’s Name Popping up in Trade Talks?

The Athletic’s Michael Russo looked more closely at Kevin Fiala’s salary arbitration case, one where it was the organization that elected to go to arbitration and not the player. Obviously, there’s some back and forth going on between the two sides and trying to get a contract done hasn’t been an easy process.

Kevin Fiala Minnesota Wild
Kevin Fiala, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Russo thinks the Wild want a shoter-term deal but Fiala wants a long-term commitment for big money. As a result, the players name is out there in trade talks. That’s a bit complicated too. Russo writes:

In a summer where Fiala’s name has undoubtedly come up in trade talks, if the Wild don’t sign Fiala to a term longer than two years, this diminishes a trade asset in the long run. As an example, what are the chances the Buffalo Sabres would want Fiala as part of a Jack Eichel package if they think he could walk in two years? Similarly, at this stage, why would Fiala want to sign long term if he knows it could make him attractive to the Sabres or another team in a trade?

source – ‘Wild’s Dean Evason on dramatic roster changes, Boldy and Rossi making team; plus Fiala’s rare arbitration’ – Michael Russo – The Athletic – 08/03/2021

Russo writes that it feels like the Wild just decided to ensure there’s a resolution here through arbitration and to get Fiala signed well in advance of training camp.

Teams Interested in Penguins Pettersson

According to Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now, some clubs with an interest in Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson. Kingerski cited a recent report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman who also noted that many teams are not enamored with his contract.

The 25-year-old Pettersson is earning $4.025 million annually through 2024-25.