The league and Players' Association announced Tuesday that the cap will be US$71.4 million for 2015-16. That's a $2.1-million increase from this season's $69 million, more than expected a few months ago.
The weak Canadian dollar led projections to be in the $70-71 million range.
"I had heard rumours it was going to be lower," Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "I think it's a little higher than I'd expected, but it was a tight window regardless."
What helped push the cap to $71.4 million was the NHLPA triggering its five per-cent escalator clause to increase the cap.
Players have the option of raising the cap five per cent each year, but because of escrow there's reason for those with contracts to vote against it. After a lot of debate, they decided to do it.
"That's what we felt had the most benefit, obviously for us as the players and I think for the overall game and the growth of our game," New York Islanders captain John Tavares said, citing the weak Canadian dollar as the biggest reason. "It's the one thing us and the league don't have any control over, so you've got to kind of deal with what's presented to us, and that's why we felt the escalator was important to use."
The NHLPA using the escalator puts more money into the system and gives cap-strapped teams a bit of relief this summer. Teams up against the cap like the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers will benefit the most, though they'll still need to shed salary before October.
"It's going to be tough for our team and tough for some of our teammates," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "Obviously not an enjoyable moment knowing that we might have to lose a few (players)."
On the other side, the likes of the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres and Nashville Predators will need to spend to reach the new cap floor of $52.8 million.
"It's like every year: People are going to have to make some decisions based on financial reasons," Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving said. "We'll see what moves happen."
Follow @SWhyno on TwitterSuggest a correction