So it would appear the NHL will make some cap era history in this year’s playoffs.
For the first time since the salary cap was instituted in 2005, a team carrying a player with a double digit cap hit is going to actually win a playoff round.
In fact, a few teams might do it.
By virtue of the Canadian division, it’s pretty much a guarantee that either Toronto, Edmonton or Montreal reach the second round of the playoffs unless Calgary sneaks in instead of the Canadiens and we have a Flames-Jets second round. Then the streak would be intact since neither Winnipeg nor Calgary have a player carrying a double digit cap hit.
First, let’s back up. That’s right, no team in the cap era has ever won a playoff round with a player on its roster making $10 million or more.
Here is the list of players with a cap hit of $8.5 million-plus whose team has made it to the Stanley Cup Final in the cap era:
Tyler Seguin, 2020 ($9.85 million AAV)
Alex Ovechkin, 2018 ($9.538 million AAV)
Nikita Kucherov, 2020 ($9.5 million AAV)
Evgeni Malkin, 2016 & 2017 ($9.5 million AAV)
Jamie Benn, 2020 ($9.5 million AAV)
Sidney Crosby, 2016 & 2017 ($8.7 million AAV)
Steven Stamkos, 2020 ($8.5 million AAV)
I mean, it’s not like the NHL in the cap era has had double digit cap hits forever.
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews first broke through with their identical deals carrying a $10.5 million AAV starting with the 2015-16 season, right after their last Cup win. The Blackhawks haven’t won a playoff series since those deals kicked in (last summer’s play-in series win over Edmonton doesn’t count as a playoff series win).
Anze Kopitar cracked the double digit barrier when his $10 million AAV kicked in for the 2016-17 season. The Kings also haven’t won a playoff series since winning the Cup in 2014.