NHL Notebook: In wake of shutdown, a flat or reduced salary cap could thwart Bruins’ offseason plans

(Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

You know, aside from the whole suspended season, threat of no Stanley Cup and a looming expansion draft in 2021, Don Sweeney and the Bruins should be breathing a little easier when this offseason finally arrives. 

I kid, I kid. After all, we don’t know exactly when we can expect a regular offseason — given that there’s a viable scenario in which NHL clubs are battling for Lord Stanley’s Cup in the mid-to-late summer or early fall. 

But, when the offseason does come around (Stanley Cup or not) the Bruins are in a rather favorable position — capable of retaining most of their talent thanks to a hefty amount of dead money coming off the books, and a nice boost in the league’s salary-cap limit.

Well, at least that was the thinking a couple of weeks ago. 

Earlier this month, at the conclusion of the league’s GM meetings down in Boca Raton, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that the $81.5 million cap limit set for the 2019-20 campaign would jump to anywhere between $84 to $88.2 million for the 2020-21 season. 

The final total would be calculated by just how much the NHL Players’ Association opted to inflate the upper limit, but even at the lowest estimate of $84 million, the Bruins had to feel as though they were in a good spot as far as keeping the band together for at least a couple more seasons. 

But now, that salary-cap boost is far from a guarantee. Given the circumstances, keeping that ceiling at the same $81.5-million threshold might very well be the best-case scenario for the league and teams at this point — even if it creates a slew of new headaches this offseason.