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Bettman: Salary cap now estimated in $69 million-$70 million range

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Gary Bettman speaks with the media on Tuesday. (Getty Images)
Gary Bettman speaks with the media on Tuesday. (Getty Images)

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The Stanley Cup playoffs have only just begun but it's never too early to look forward to next season, particularly for those teams who are already done and can do nothing but figure out how to get better.

Essential to the offseason planning is knowing what the salary cap will be next season so every team knows what kind of money they have to recklessly blow in free agency to rebuild.

At one point there was a wild hope that the salary cap could rise to $71 million or so after a record year in revenue thanks in part to six outdoor games and new television deals in Canada. But Kings GM Dean Lombardi -- probably the smartest GM in hockey -- poured some water on that by saying the cap would likely be more around $68 million with the falling Canadian dollar.

The real cap looks like it's going to be somewhere in between, so at least Lombardi was on to something. Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke with reporters in Philadelphia on Tuesday before the Flyers and Rangers played Game 3 and among the updates he gave was the latest estimate on the salary cap.

While it's not the massive jump that had been optimistically projected but it is still a jump of nearly $6 million over this season's salary cap that's at $64.3 million. Teams will find ways to use that new-found cap space.

Among the other topics that Bettman addressed was the Islanders sale (nothing imminent, won't move to Brooklyn until 2015-16 regardless), the next Winter Classic (Capitals' opponent should be announced in new couple of weeks) and the shootout (it's staying because fans like it).

We'll hear even more when the Stanley Cup Final begins because he along with Bill Daly hold the annual "state of the union" prior to Game 1 when things are a bit more finalized.

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