Minnesota Whitecaps’ hockey league doubles salary cap

The Premier Hockey Federation, in which the Minnesota Whitecaps play, announced Wednesday that it will double its salary cap next season, a commitment it describes as “historic” for the women’s hockey league.

The cap for each of its seven teams will be increased from $750,000 this season to $1.5 million in the 2023-24 season, the PHF said in a press release. This season’s cap floor is $562,500 per team.

It is the third salary cap increase in nine seasons in a league formerly known as the National Women’s Hockey League. The cap for next season will be 900% growth since it was $150,000 per team in 2021, the league said.

PHF Commissioner Reagan Carey said in a statement that the 2023-24 cap “reflects the strength of our league and the evolving business model of a league” where all seven teams are now independently owned. NLTT Ventures owns the Whitecaps and the Buffalo Beauts.

Carey said the double cap will support a better “player experience” that includes comprehensive healthcare benefits, facility upgrades and the expansion of the league, which added a new team in Montreal this season.

The Whitecaps moved the downtown St. Paul practice track from Wild’s Tria to Richfield Ice Arena this season, where they will play their 12 home games this season. They have their own locker room, training rooms and team store for the first time. They also painted their team logo – and that of their sponsors too – in the ice.

They are currently third in the PHF with a 3-3-2 record and a forthcoming home weekend series against Montreal. Those league promotions — particularly the growing salary cap — allowed a Whitecaps team that finished fifth out of six teams last season to break into Europe during free agency this summer.

The Whitecaps signed Czech Olympian and former Northeastern University top scorer Denisa Krizova, who has been playing in Sweden for the last three seasons. They also brought home former UMD forward Sydney Brodt from Mounds View High after playing in Sweden last season.

“It was a big draw for a lot of us to have this support from the league and the team here,” Brodt said of a growing salary cap earlier in the season. “Sweden was great. They have a great women’s pro league there. But it’s nice to be home.”

Like everything else, money speaks.

“Getting players from Europe to come home and play here definitely helps attract players,” Whitecaps coach Ronda Engelhardt said last month. “It brings in a lot of high-end players. There’s more money to be made than I thought.”

Carey credits players, alumni, coaches, staff, volunteers, partners, owners and fans for that growth, saying they “all worked to ensure that full-time professional hockey was a career path for women.”

“We won’t stop here,” she said. “Greater financial opportunity for athletes is part of the new PHF era. We’re doing the work and seeing the results.”

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