According to reports from TSN, the NHL has approved a salary cap increase from $59.4 million last season to $64 million this upcoming season -- effective June 30, the day before free agency begins.
If you're a fan of the Colorado Avalanche, that number means nothing to you. The Avalanche are in no danger of approaching the salary cap anytime soon. Here's the number you should really know:
That's the new salary floor, and the amount of money that the Avalanche must have on the books before the start of the regular season.
They currently have contract obligations of just $32.14 million, leaving them a minimum of $15.86 million to spend this offseason just to reach the league minimum. Two first round draft selections should help, as those slots normally add around $4.5 million to the team's cap number on entry level contracts. Still, that gives a minimum of $11.3 million for Colorado to spend in free agency, and with only 11-12 roster spots to fill.
A quality goaltender or #1 defenseman could take up half of that required cap space, and it's possible the Avalanche go that route simply because they have to by league rules. It will be an active offseason for Colorado simply because it has to be.
Of course, these numbers become even more skewed when you look beyond to 2012-2013, where Colorado only has C Paul Stastny and rookie defenseman Cameron Gaunce under contract and more than $41 million in salary to be added just to hit the salary floor, and that's without including another likely cap increase next offseason. Of course, with Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly, and Erik Johnson becoming restricted free agents that summer, there's plenty of space to lock in these three key players long term.
For the future, the club is in great shape financially and should avoid the cap troubles that many teams currently suffer. But for now, they need to go on (for them) a shopping spree.