Flyers to get more salary cap relief

An increased salary cap means the Flyers will have extra money when negotiating with goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. (Ralph Freso/AP)

On Monday, even before negotiations with free agent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov set to resume after a weekend hiatus, the Flyers learned they may have a little more money to throw around this summer.

The NHL’s 2011-12 salary cap will be going up by more than anticipated.

Original reports had the cap settling at $63.5 million, up from last year’s $59.4 million, but teams were reportedly notified on Monday that the cap will be increasing to $64 million for next season.

The number has not yet offically been nailed down yet, according to reports, or released publicly by the league.

Still, even $500K extra for the Flyers - who will be teetering at the cap’s upper limit - would be more than half of a contract for a role player.

TSN in Canada first reported the cap increase. It comes at a crucial time, as each team will be crunching their budgets hard this week - either to re-sign a free agent or to see what they can afford - before this Friday’s draft at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

The salary cap floor, or minimum each team must spend, has also been increased to $48 million.

Since the league instituted the salary cap after the 2004-05 lockout, the 2011-12 salary cap floor of $48 million is now a full $9 million above the league’s original upper limit of $39 million.

Here is the league's cap evolution:

2005-06: $39 million (upper) --> $23 million (lower)
2006-07: $44 million --> $28 million
2007-08: $50.3 million --> $34.3 million
2008-09: $56.7 million --> $40.7 million
2009-10: $56.8 million --> $40.8 million
2010-11: $59.4 million --> $43.4 million
2011-12: $64 million --> $48 million

This year, the NHLPA was reportedly able to use a one-time five percent escalator as part of the collective bargaining agreement that is set to expire after next season.

For comparisons sake, the Flyers spent roughly $73 million on player salaries in the 2003-04 season, according to Forbes Magazine, before the salary cap existed. They also spent $62 million in 2002-03.

It may sound crazy, but the biggest number reported on Monday may be the salary cap floor number. Why? Small market, low budget teams like Florida, who have just $18 million committed in salary for next season, will need to spend at least $30 million just to be cap compliant. They may be willing to take on a little more salary than normal off a team like the Flyers looking to dump.

Exactly 11 of the league's 30 teams have $40 million or less committed for next season - which means nearly half the league has some serious spending to do.

Overall, it's been the fans, sponsors and television networks who have been doing the spending. For the first time in its history, after setting new television ratings records with last week’s Stanley Cup Final Game 7 in Vancouver, the NHL is set to exceed $3 billion in revenue this season. Among the major four sports, they are still roughly $1 billion behind the NBA and nearly $6 billion back of the NFL.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers

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