The CapFriendly site on June 9, 2024. The CapFriendly site on June 9, 2024. (

In professional sports leagues with salary caps, a key part of the analysis of teams has been about third-party sites with contact and cap hit information.

One of the most prominent in the NHL has been CapFriendly. But Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Sunday that the Washington Capitals are set to buy it and close it to the public following the start of free agency:

Here’s more from Friedman’s piece:

According to multiple sources, the Washington Capitals have reached an agreement to purchase the outstanding CapFriendly website.

These same sources stressed that both the Capitals and CapFriendly wanted the site to be publicly available and independently operated through the 2024 NHL Draft and the start of free agency, so it is not expected the sale will be official until at least July 5.

…NHL teams that had agreements to use their tools/Application Programming Interface (API) recently received notice that these contracts would be terminated. This led to speculation that one club was buying the site, and all information pointed to the Capitals.

You can definitely see why a team would want this infrastructure. After the transaction officially closes, the website will go dark.

As Friedman notes, CapFriendly itself follows on from its predecessor CapGeek. That site was closed in 2015 following site creator Matthew Wuest’s passing from colon cancer. CapFriendly has carried on much of that legacy, and it’s been a valuable resource for individual fans, media members, and even teams (as evidenced by those API agreements). And that has many mourning its passing. Here are some of those X/Twitter posts (language warning):

However, as many have noted, there were already alternatives to CapFriendly out there before this transition, including PuckPedia. And others, including Meghan Chayka, have mused about launching new sites with similar functionality. (It’s also unclear what this means for other sites under the CapFriendly banner, including NBA site SalarySwish.)

Thus, given that, this purchase by the Capitals is interesting. There clearly was value to the specific CapFriendly database, as shown by this purchase agreement and by previous team deals to use its API. But it’s not particularly obvious right now what differentiates the CapFriendly information from other contract information to a degree where a team would want to buy it and close it.

There is a notable point above from the @HabsOnReddit X account on the league not purchasing this, though. Third-party league statistics sites have tremendous value and can push the envelope on a lot of fronts a league site cannot, and that’s something we’ve seen with the likes of Baseball Reference and Fangraphs in MLB.

But there still is value to official league integrations, something we’ve seen with MLB’s integration of (selected) Negro Leagues databases. And, yes, there could be particular hurdles to making an official salary database: players’ associations might not be keen on that. But there is a worthwhile discussion to be had on if leagues should provide this kind of information given that it does affect league competition and decisions and that it is publicly available elsewhere. And league ownership would certainly provide stability for fans and would preclude the possibility of one team buying a site and shutting it down.

It remains to be seen if this move by the Capitals will actually benefit them in any way, or in a sufficient enough way to overcome the PR hit they’re taking for buying the site. They clearly see value in CapFriendly’s specific information, and perhaps there’s something they see there that is not yet available at competing sites like PuckPedia.

And perhaps there will be losses for some fans, media, and maybe even teams as a result of this. But it’s also possible that the CapFriendly closure will inspire more features at competing sites, and/or the launch of new sites. We’ll have to wait and see. But it’s at the very least notable to see a team buy and close down a site that had previously been a public resource.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.