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NHL Trade Market Might Get Crafty to Avoid Salary Cap Constraints

Many NHL clubs rumored to acquire top trade bait currently don't have the salary cap space to do so in 2022-23. How hard will it be to trade within the cap?
Matt Dumba

The NHL salary cap has forced GMs to get creative in the trade market during the regular season. Given the glacial rise of the cap through next season, GMs will have to become more inventive to make big moves during the 2022-23 schedule.

Cap Friendly indicates 13 teams (as of Oct. 14) are at the $82.5-million salary cap or exceeding it by placing permanently sidelined players on the long-term injury reserve (LTIR). Another five clubs possess less than $1 million in cap room, while another 10 have less than $4.5 million.

Meanwhile, some noteworthy NHL players have already surfaced in season-opening trade speculation. However, those rumors have linked them to a number of clubs with little or no cap space.

The Edmonton Oilers are among them. Nevertheless, The Athletic's Daniel Nugent-Bowman wrote they have varying degrees of interest in Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. 

Speaking of Kane, the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs have been linked to him. TSN's Pierre LeBrun recently suggested the Rangers and New York Islanders as “decent possibilities.”

None of these clubs, however, can currently afford to acquire Kane even if the Blackhawks agreed to retain half of his $10.5-million average annual salary.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba and Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin are eligible to become unrestricted free agents next summer. Several pundits believe they could be shopped by the March 3 trade deadline.

Some teams should accrue sufficient cap space to make moves by deadline day. However, most cap-strapped playoff contenders could still find it impossible to get into the bidding for the best talent in the trade market.

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