— Many hockey fans, pundits and even General Manager’s have probably learned by now not to believe any salary cap projections. Around January and February, projections for the next season are always made with talk of a $4-$5 million increase.

Two years ago the salary cap was projected to already be in the $80 million range by 2016-2017.

As expected, none of that is going to happen.

Bill Daly said last week the salary cap ($71.4 million in 2015-2016) would stay “relatively flat”.

Larry Brooks of the New York reported over the weekend, the salary cap will be reduced to approximately $69.3 million unless the NHLPA triggers the 5% escalator. If the players trigger the 5% escalator, the cap will come in around $72.8 million.

The NHLPA’s leadership often recommends to the players to decline the 5% escalator but it has only happened once because when push comes to shove, agents and pending unrestricted free agents cause too much of a fuss.

So it’s going to be another summer where a lot of mid-tier free agents better be prepared to take significant pay cuts. Last summer Andrei Sekera received the biggest contract among UFA’s, 6 years, $33 million.

The largest contract dished out to a forward was Michael Frolik, 5 years – $21.5 million. Only six players received a contract with a total value over $10 million.

This summer it’s a much more impressive group but there’s going to a couple marquee players who will be forced to sign stunningly low contracts compared to their initial demands. They will probably be in for a shock like some UFA’s were last summer.

Steven Stamkos will get his $10 million and pick his destination, while the Edmonton Oilers or Vancouver Canucks will throw a big contract at Milan Lucic if he leaves Los Angeles. Kyle Okposo will be paid big, Devils plan to go hard after him, but someone like Andrew Ladd, who will be 31, is not going to get anywhere near the 6 year, $36 million contract the Jets offered him at somepoint this season.

Does Loui Eriksson have any chance of getting the 5 year, $30 million contract he’s been seeking from the Bruins? Probably not.

The key group of forwards in their 30’s, Andrew Ladd, David Backes, Troy Brouwer are a bit of a mystery on how the market will be in regards to getting one last big contract.

Lesser forwards in their 30’s like Jiri Hudler, Teddy Purcell will likely have to settle for contracts in the $2 million per range, if not lower.

Eric Staal is likely headed to at least a $5 million pay-cut.

There’s certainly going to be value out there and a couple Cody Franson’s again. Franson notoriously went into free agency in 2015 seeking a Matt Niskanen type contract and came out with a 2 year – $6.6 million contract two months later.

nyrThe New York Rangers will be the most fascinating team this summer in an attempt to reopen their championship window before it gets too late with Henrik Lundqvist getting up there in age. The bad contracts they dished out in previous years finally caught up to them. They plan to try to open cap space for a run at Steven Stamkos and other than Lundqvist , everyone is in play.

Chatter in league circles is the Rangers are going to attempt to do something big from signing Stamkos to even talk of trying to trade for PK Subban.

— The NHL is a copy cat league. Many contenders in the East that are close to being a Stanley Cup team will be trying to replicate the type of speed Pittsburgh attacks you with. NHL sources say Mikkel Boedker, a player interesting enough that the Penguins loved at the trade deadline, [hide] is going to be a popular target among Eastern Conference contenders. Perfect type of top-9 forward the Capitals are expected to look into.

fleury— The Penguins have so much respect for Marc Andre Fleury, the team will be very cautious in what they say about his future after the season. Expect a lot of “we plan to have him back.” Fleury will get to drive the bus on whether he stays or not, multiple high ranking officials in the organization say.

Stanley%20Cup%20Final%20Logo— Through three games of the Stanley Cup Final, the Penguins continue to out-shoot the San Jose Sharks by a major margin.. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer is playing the quality versus quantity card.

“One, they [Pittsburgh] shoot from everywhere,” DeBoer said on Sunday. “They sling pucks from everywhere. You do have to look at quality versus quantity. I don’t think it’s as easy as looking at the shot clock and saying you’re getting dominated because they’ve got 40 shots and you’ve got 26. I don’t think the game is that simple,” DeBoer said.

“They get pucks to the net. We can probably do better job of limiting that, getting in some more lanes. Historically during the year, we’ve been one of the best shot-blocking teams in the league. But, they fire from everywhere, every angle, all over the place, then cause confusion around the net.”