Capitals: Breaking down their 2020 salary cap situation

Brian MacLellan, Washington Capitals (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Brian MacLellan, Washington Capitals (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Washington Capitals have always been known to spend to the cap. Now with the season paused it presents an opportunity to gain additional cap space thanks to the new NHL projections for next season.

There hasn’t been Washington Capitals hockey for a month and a half. While we wait for the season to resume, if at all possible, it isn’t too early to look at what the Caps are up against when it comes to salary cap spending.

A couple months ago, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told general managers across the league that the NHL salary cap for next season is projected to be between $84 million and $88.2 million. That is an astronomical increase compared to the $81.5 million the Caps had to work with one summer ago.

According to, the range in the projection is dependent on the maximum five percent inflator the NHL Players’ Association can trigger after negotiations with the NHL to increase the figure. The $84 million is with a zero percent infiltrator while the $88.2 million will compromise the full five percent. Last year the NHLPA triggered a one percent inflator.

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Usually we don’t know the salary cap until after the NHL Draft. That typically takes place in late June but the league is pushing to move the draft up to June 5, however, the final figure might not be finalized until late June or even later than that if they decide to finish the season.

There’s a lot of questions facing general manager Brian MacLellan, the man put in charge to make roster decisions on who to re-sign and who to let walk. There is a rumor that thanks to the novel coronavirus, that the salary cap projection might be lower. If that’s the case, then it’ll be much harder to spend.

In a conference call with reporters, MacLellan discussed the salary cap dilemma and more:

"“It is difficult. I guess we talk over all the possible scenarios and you try to prepare mentally for anything. What happens to the cap? Does the cap go down because revenues are going to decrease? Do they artificially keep it where it’s at? So, the answer to those questions puts us on pause on your [unrestricted free agent] negotiations. How do we proceed given both those scenarios? Those are just open-ended questions and we discuss them, but we don’t come up with any answers.”"

Don’t expect an answer to the salary cap anytime soon. Hopefully by mid-May we’ll know more about where the league stands on completing the season or not. So far signs point positive but as with anything in life there are no guarantees.

The Caps will enter the offseason, whenever that will be, with four unrestricted free agents (UFA) and three restricted free agents (RFA).

The UFAs are Ilya Kovalchuk, Radko Gudas, Brenden Dillon, and Braden Holtby. The RFAs are Travis Boyd, Brendan Leipsic, and Jonas Siegenthaler. Lots of decisions will have to be made about those following contracts.

In the end, it’ll be interesting to see what the league settles on for the salary cap and what the Capitals will do to spend to the ceiling which is an annual summer tradition. Though let’s hope this year it’s in the fall.

More. Capitals: Jakub Vrana is their impact player so far in 2020. light

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