In news that will come as a pleasant surprise to rosterbationists across the greater San Jose Area, the NHL's salary cap will be even higher than the $63.5 MM estimate Bill Daly offered earlier this month.
In fact, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the salary cap upper limit will be $64 MM next year, good for nearly one more league-minimum player on every team roster across the NHL:
"I'm told the upper limit of the 2011-12 NHL salary cap will be $64 million," Bob McKenzie said over Twitter. "The lower limit, or floor, will be $48 million.
As we detailed in excess here, even with a conservative salary cap estimate of $62.0 MM the would be sitting pretty in regards to their ability to pursue an improvement to their team this offseason. With an increase of $2.0 MM however, that already sunny outlook is now resulting in a few third degree sunburns at the beach of boisterous buzz.
As of today, the San Jose Sharks have 14 players under contract that will eat up $51.825 MM of cap space with five forwards and one defenseman needing to be signed. This leaves San Jose with a very cushy $12.163 MM in available funds to be used next year in order to ice a legal roster. In other words, more than enough to re-sign players such asand and still make a big splash in the UFA market on July 1st.
Whether or not the Sharks decide to aggressively pursue a notable forward or defenseman on the free agent market this offseason is an entirely different matter of course-- Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson is notoriously frugal when it comes to offering big contracts to UFA's, and has stated before that the NHL Trade Deadline and this time of year are when organizations tend to make the most mistakes.
"Free agent frenzy-- they call it that for a reason," Wilson told Fear The Fin after the opening day of free agency last year.
However, it must be stated that the San Jose Sharks have never enjoyed the luxury that they do today, and it is entirely possible Wilson's previous trepidations are due to the limited cap space and/or unwillingness of the organization to spend all the way to the upper limit. For many years the Sharks had an internal cap set, but as the years since the Lockout have progressed, the organization has spent all the way to the top of the salary cap as the Sharks began their reign as perennial Stanley Cup contenders. That spending has caused many an offseason to occur where salary cap concerns are as much of a factor as acquiring players as the skill set of those players. This year, San Jose faces no such issue.
With their core locked up for the next four years, young players improving at a rapid pace, top-shelf talent throughout the roster, and two straight Western Conference Finals under their belts, San Jose is in an enviable position at this moment in time. The roster is primed for another strong season as it stands-- with over $12.0 MM to work with in free agency, that roster has the potential to become undoubtedly elite with the right moves this offseason.
The stage is set for July 1st.
And something, whether it be wishful thinking or a cold hard analysis of the numbers, tells me it's going to be worth your while to tune in.