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Let the swap meet begin: GMs learn '15-16 cap numbers

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Any hockey fan should memorize these numbers because they will formulate the parameters of the 2015-16 season, starting today.

The salary cap has gone up to $71.4 million. The cap floor is $52.8 million.

The NHL and the NHL Players Association jointly announced the numbers Tuesday, on the first day of the general managers meetings taking place in Las Vegas in conjunction with the NHL Awards. Rest assured those meetings will kick-start plenty of talking as the GMs head here for Friday night's draft.

The cap will be tight for teams like the Blackhawks, Flyers, Lightning, Canucks, Canadiens and Bruins -- although not as tight as it could have been if it has stayed mostly flat at the '14-15 level of $69 million.

Still, those teams will still have to maneuver their roster and the Blackhawks -- who will now pay identical $10.5 million cap hits to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews going forward -- are definitely going to have to shed payroll.

Where do the Sabres stand in all this? Sites like GeneralFanager.com as well as Buffalo News calculations list the team's current cap payroll at around $42 million, leaving them roughly $29 million shy of the cap -- and nearly $11 million shy of the floor.

And that's before a possible buyout of Cody Hodgson, which would shave nearly another $3.2 million off the team's cap payroll. The Sabres have until June 30 to make their decision on Hodgson.

The team will certainly add some payroll this offseason, be it through trades or free agency, so that floor figure is hardly daunting. And remember, teams have through the preseason to be in compliance to the cap or the floor, so this is hardly a summer-only project

It will be interesting to see what other teams well below the floor do. Arizona is nearly $19 million from the floor while Nashville is more than $12.4 million. No other team is currently more than $5 million shy of the league minimum cap payroll.

 

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