SUNRISE, Fla. -- The NHL salary cap will rise to $88 million next season, the League and the NHL Players’ Association announced Saturday.

That’s an increase of $4.5 million from the salary cap of $83.5 million this season. The cap has not risen more than $4 million season over season since it went up $4.5 million from $75 million in 2017-18 to $79.5 million in 2018-19.

“It’s great to see,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “I know the general managers and the teams are excited to have more flexibility and it means that the revenues are as robust as we’ve been telling you all along.”

The cap was $81.5 million from 2019-22 because of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, then rose $1 million each of the past two seasons, increasing to $82.5 million for 2022-23.

The NHL had projected the salary cap would be $87.7 million at its Board of Governors meetings in Seattle in December.

“I predict that it will continue to go up,” the Commissioner said Saturday. “Obviously, with the number of years we had with flat or modest increases it was necessary to recapture how much was overpaid and how much the escrow built up during COVID, but I believe we’re going to continue to see robust growth in the cap.”

The players pay a percentage of their salaries into escrow to assure a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue between the players and the teams, as allotted under the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement. The players accrued an approximate $1.5 billion escrow debt in 2019-20 when the season was paused because of the pandemic but they continued to be paid.

The NHL and NHLPA also announced, per the collective bargaining agreement, the lower limit per team for next season will be $65 million and the midpoint will be $76.5 million.