blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: 2016

Sunday, October 9, 2016

NHL Highest Paid Players By Year

NHL player salaries have seen fantastic fluctuations over the past two decades owing to aggressive player negotiations, reckless owner spending, and the introduction of the NHL salary cap in 2005.

The chart below shows the highest paid players in the NHL in terms of annual salary since 1989-1990 and the team responsible for payment.

Year       Salary Player
1989-1990   $2,000,000 Lemieux (PIT)
1990-1991 $3,000,000 Gretzky (LAK
1991-1992 $3,000,000 Gretzky (LAK)
1992-1993 $3,500,000 Lindros (PHI)
1993-1994 $3,350,000 Lindros (PHI)
1994-1995 $3,660,000 Gretzky (LAK)
1995-1996 $6,540,000 Gretzky (LAK, STL)
1996-1997 $11,350,000 Lemieux (PIT)
1997-1998 $16,450,000 Sakic (COL)
1998-1999 $14,500,000 Fedorov (DET)
1999-2000 $17,400,000 Jagr (PIT)
2000-2001 $10,000,000 Forsberg (COL), Kariya (ANA)
2001-2002     $11,000,000     Jagr (WAS)
2002-2003 $11,480,000 Jagr (WAS)
2003-2004 $11,000,000 Forsberg (COL), Jagr (WAS)
2005-2006 $8,360,000 Jagr (NYR)
2006-2007 $8,360,000 Jagr (NYR)
2007-2008 $10,000,000 Briere (PHI), Gomez (NYR), Vanek (BUF)
2008-2009 $10,000,000 Heatley (OTT)
2009-2010 $10,000,000 Lecavalier (TBL)
2010-2011 $10,000,000 Lecavalier (TBL), Luongo (VAN)
2011-2012 $12,000,000 B. Richards (NYR)
2012-2013 $14,000,000 Weber (NAS)
2013-2014 $14,000,000 Weber (NAS)
2014-2015 $14,000,000 Weber (NAS)
2015-2016 $14,000,000 Weber (NAS)
2016-2017 $14,000,000 Kopitar (LAK)



Jagr lays claim to the largest salary in a single season banking $17.4m in 2000, with Sakic a close second at $16.45m in 1998. The lowest paid top earner over the past 21 seasons was Lemieux, taking $2m in 1990. 

Six times during this span Jagr led all players in pay (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007) with Gretzky (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996) and Weber tied for second place with four such salary titles (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016). Only five times since 1990 has a goaltender (Luongo 2011) or a defenseman (Weber 2013-2016) led the league in pay.

In terms of accomplishments, three times during this span the NHL salary king has captured the Art Ross finishing with the most regular season points (Gretzky 1991, Lemieux 1997, Jagr 2000) yet only once has one hoisted the Stanley Cup (Forsberg 2001) in his highest paid year.

As for MVP honors, hockey writers and GMs have never recognized a top earner for regular season (Hart, NorrisVezina) or playoff (Conn Smythe) performance during this period, though the players twice picked Jagr (2000, 2006) as such (Lindsay) during his six season pay day heyday.

Of course, since the salary cap was introduced in 2005, the key figure in terms of a player's cost to a team is his cap hit figure as opposed to his annual salary. A list of the top player salary and cap hit figures by position for the 2016-17 NHL season can be found here.


* See also NHL Highest Player Salary & Cap Hit By Position.
* See also NHL Minimum Wage & Maximum Wage By Year.
* See also Rethinking NHL Player Salary Structure.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

NHL Highest Player Salary & Cap Hit By Position

Since the NHL salary cap was introduced in 2005, clubs have kept a close eye on two key player payroll markers - cap hit and salary. Cap hit corresponds to the dollar amount applied towards team salary cap whereas salary connotes a player's actual take home pay.

The chart below presents 2016-2017 NHL player cap hit and salary figures for the top ten players in each position as published by Cap Friendly.

      2016-2017 NHL Player Cap Hit By Position

Forward  $m      Defense     $m      Goalie       $m
Kane  10.5         Subban Lundqvist 8.5
Toews  10.5         Weber 7.85  Bobrovsky 7.42
Kopitar  10         Byfuglien 7.6  Rinne       7
Ovechkin  9.53        Suter 7.53  Rask         7
Malkin  9.5        Letang 7.25  Price         6.5
Crosby  8.7         Phaneuf 7 Holtby         6.1
Perry  8.62         Doughty Crawford  6
Stamkos  8.5         Chara 6.91  Miller      6
Giroux  8.27         Seabrook 6.87 Schneider         6
Getzlaf  8.25         Giordano 6.75  Bishop        5.95
Voracek  8.25        

       

      2016-2017 NHL Player Salary By Position

Forward  $m      Defense     $m        Goalie  $m
Kopitar  14        Weber 12  Lundqvist 9.5
Kane  13.8        Subban 11  Bobrovsky 8.5
Toews  13.8         Suter 9 Rask     7.5
O'Reilly  11         Seabrook Quick      7
Crosby  10.9         Byfuglien Holtby      7
Perry  10       Phaneuf 7.5 Rinne       7
Ovechkin  10         Yandle 7.5  Price  7
Voracek  10         Doughty 7.45  Luongo    6.71
Malkin  9.5        Letang 7.25 Smith      6.5
Stamkos 9.5        Karlsson 7 Lehtonen 6

        Petry 7 Crawford 6

        Peitrangelo 7 Miller      6

        Boychuk 7 Varlamov 6

       

Schneider    6

The 2005 CBA permitted a player's cap hit and salary figure to diverge dramatically in the same season and over the course of a multi-year contract. Thus, despite Kopitar ($14m) being paid the most this season, it's actually Kane and Toews ($10.5m), who cost the most consuming more of their team's $73m cap limit than any other player.  The 2013 CBA limits this cap-circumvention loophole providing that no multi-year contract can fluctuate more than 35% year-to-year on salary amounts and 50% from the lowest salary year to the highest salary year.  

Another interesting facet of modern player contracts are signing bonus payments (as opposed to performance bonus payments). The genius of structuring player compensation as a bonus is that the earnings are not subject to escrow withholdings and are payable during lockouts.  

When a player retires their cap hit does not typically count against the team's cap limit.  Two notable exceptions to this rule include: (1) all remaining years of any contract signed by players 35 years of age or older continue to count against a team's cap after retirement; and (2) if a player retires and the salary on any remaining years is less than the cap hit of those remaining years, the difference is recouped and charged to the team's cap for those remaining years. A list of all current 35+ contracts may be found here.

As for injuries, teams must still pay a player's salary while injured but the cap hit does not count against the club (LTIR & SOIR).  

A listing of the highest paid players in the NHL since 1990, along with the teams responsible for cutting their checks, can be found here.


* See also NHL Highest Paid Players By Year.
* See also Rethinking NHL Player Salary Structure.
* See also NHL Minimum Wage & Maximum Wage By Year.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

2016 NHL Individual Awards Winners

When it comes to the NHL Awards, a handful are earned on statistical achievement while the rest are won through votes cast by various organizations depending on the award. The chart below shows the award winners for the 2016 NHL season.

NHL Award              Winner 
Conn Smythe Trophy                              Sidney Crosby
Art Ross Trophy Patrick Kane
Maurice Richard Trophy Alex Ovechkin
Hart Trophy Patrick Kane
Ted Lindsay Award Patrick Kane
Selke Trophy Anze Kopitar
Norris Trophy Drew Doughty
Vezina Trophy Braden Holtby
Jennings Trophy Frederik Andersen/John Gibson
Calder Trophy Artemi Panarin
Jack Adams Award Barry Trotz
GM of the Year Jim Rutherford
Bill Masterton Trophy                        Jaromir Jagr
Lady Byng Trophy Anze Kopitar
King Clancy Trophy Henrik Sedin
Foundation Award Mark Giordano
Messier Award Shea Weber

2016 NHL First All-Star Team honors went to Holtby (G), Doughty (D), Karlsson (D), Crosby (C), Kane (RW) and Benn (LW). The 2016 NHL Second All-Star Team roster was Bishop (G), Burns (D), Letang (D), Thornton (C), Tarasenko (RW) and Ovechkin (LW).  

The 2016 NHL All-Rookie Team was comprised of newcomers John Gibson (G), Shayne Gostisbehere (D), Colton Parayko (D), Jack Eichel (F), Connor McDavid (F) and Artemi Panarin (F).

* See also 2015 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2014 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2013 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2012 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2011 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2010 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2009 NHL Individual Awards Winners.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines

The time-honored tradition of NHL playoff combatants shaking hands upon the conclusion of a series is among the greatest displays of sportsmanship in professional team sports today. Seconds after the horn sounds at the end of a series, players and coaches from both teams convene at center ice to celebrate each other's efforts.

The videos below capture the final moments of play in each series-ending game to date in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs along with the ensuing traditional team handshake line, sorted by round and series end date.

FIRST ROUND

The Lightning eliminated the Red Wings in Game 5 on April 21, 2016.


The Sharks eliminated the Kings in Game 5 on April 22, 2016.


The Penguins eliminated the Rangers in Game 5 on April 23, 2016.


The Capitals eliminated the Flyers in Game 6 on April 24, 2016.


The Stars eliminated the Wild in Game 6 on April 24, 2016.


The Islanders eliminated the Panthers in Game 6 on April 24, 2016.


The Blues eliminated the Blackhawks in Game 7 on April 25, 2016.


The Predators eliminated the Ducks in Game 7 on April 27, 2016.


SECOND ROUND

The Lightning eliminated the Islanders in Game 5 on May 8, 2016.


The Penguins eliminated the Capitals in Game 6 on May 10, 2016.


The Blues eliminated the Stars in Game 7 on May 11, 2016.


The Sharks eliminated the Predators in Game 7 on May 12, 2016.


THIRD ROUND

The Sharks eliminated the Blues in Game 6 on May 25, 2016.


The Penguins eliminated the Lightning in Game 7 on May 26, 2016.


STANLEY CUP FINAL

The Penguins eliminated the Sharks in Game 6 on June 12, 2016.


In an age of results reigning over respect, it's encouraging to see such sportsmanship in professional sport, albeit with notable exceptions (Milan Lucic 2014), abstention (Martin Brodeur 2008Derek Boogaard 2007, Chris Chelios 2007Darren McCarty 1997, Ed Belfour 1995Billy Smith, Gerry Cheevers) and disdain (Dino Ciccarelli 1996) in recent years.

* See also 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

2016 NHL Draft Lottery Results

Tonight Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly presented the NHL Draft lottery results live on CBC, with the top overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, to be held on June 24-25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York, being awarded to the intentionally tanking Toronto Maple Leafs.
The actual lottery was conducted 30 minutes earlier in Sportnet's Hockey Central Studio in Toronto. In this video from 2013, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman offers a detailed explanation of the process.
Designed to guard against teams purposely losing regular season games to improve their draft position, the weighted lottery system implemented prior to the 1995 NHL Entry Draft provides weaker teams with a greater chance of a higher pick without any guarantees for poor performance.

Until 2013, only the league's five worst regular season teams were eligible for the top overall pick, allowing teams to advance up to four spots and fall only one spot in the lottery. That changed in 2013 with all non-playoff teams eligible for the top overall pick albeit with their statistical likelihood directly tied to their final regular season standing. Though, a team could still only fall one spot in lottery position.

In 2014, additional changes were implemented for the lottery to reflect the competitive balance of the league, with more balanced odds being introduced in 2015 and separate draws in 2016 for the top three positions (as opposed to just for the top overall pick), allowing the league's worst regular season performer to slip as low as fourth overall (as opposed to just second overall under the prior regime).  

For the first time in five years, the top pick went to the statistical favorite. The win provides Toronto with their first top overall pick since selecting Wendel Clark in the 1985 Draft, snapping the Edmonton Oilers streak of selecting first in four of the past six drafts (Taylor Hall 2010, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 2011, Nail Yakupov 2012, Connor McDavid 2015).

Adding to the excitement, the Winnipeg Jets (7.5%) and Columbus Blue Jackets (9.5%) snagged 2nd and 3rd spots, leapfrogging statistical favorites Edmonton and Vancouver. The chart below shows final draft position by team with accompanying odds of selecting first, second or third overall, along with their most likely seeding in the lottery.

Draft Position 1st Pick    2nd Pick    3rd Pick    Likely Pick
1. Toronto  
20.0%
17.5%
15.0%
   4th (47.5%)
2. Winnipeg
7.5%
7.8%
8.1%
   7th (39.3%)
3. Columbus
9.5%
9.7%
9.8%
   6th (33.2%)
4. Edmonton
13.5%
13.1%
12.5%
   4th (35.2%)
5. Vancouver
11.5%
11.4%
11.3%
   5th (37.8%)
6. Calgary
8.5%
8.8%
9.0%
   6th (35.5%)
7. Arizona
6.5%
6.9%
7.2%
   8th (39.1%)
8. Buffalo
6.0%
6.4%
6.8%
   8th (39.2%)
9. Montreal
5.0%
5.4%
5.8%
   9th (51.8%)
10. Colorado
3.5%
3.8%
4.2%
  10th (64%)
11. New Jersey       
3.0%
3.3%
3.6%
   11th (73.6%)
12. Ottawa
2.5%
2.7%
3.0%
   12th (82.3%)
13. Carolina
2.0%
2.2%
2.5%
   13th (90.1%)
14. Boston
1.0%
1.1%
1.3%
   14th (96.6%)

Per HockeyViz math wiz Micah Blake McCurdy, the lowest seven finishers (i.e., 24th to 30th overall) are more likely to fall one spot in the draft than to move up under the current draft lottery mechanism.

Remaining NHL Entry Draft positions are set after the playoffs with the Stanley Cup champion and runner-up picking 30th and 29th, respectively. Conference finalists (28th, 27th) as well as division winners and wildcard teams (26th through 15th) are then ordered among their respective subgroup based on regular season standings, positioning teams with better regular season records to pick later than their peers.

* See also 2018 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2017 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2015 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2014 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2013 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2012 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2011 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2010 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2009 NHL Draft Lottery Results.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

NHL Playoff Seeding And Re-Seeding Rules

With the opening round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the books, the list of Stanley Cup suitors has officially been halved from sixteen teams to a remaining eight. The next question is who plays who in the next round, and why.

The NHL relies on reseeding to pair opponents beyond the postseason's preliminary round. This process sets top teams in each of the four divisions against wildcard recipients and matches second and third place finishers in their respective division against each other. The survivorwinner of the these two series will play each other in the second round, with winners from each of the four divisional brackets battle in their respective Conference Final, with victors skating in the Stanley Cup Final.

Home ice advantage in each best-of-seven series belongs to the team with the most regular season points. When teams have the same number of regular season points, tiebreaker rules are employed.

The beauty of reseeding is it rewards regular season strength amongst divisional teams. Underdogs never shed their skin, forced to play through higher finishing teams to advance, whereas top dogs always enjoy an extra game at home.

Unfortunately, the current reseeding system disadvantages divisions with strong teams, forcing them to play each other when weaker teams reside elsewhere in the conference. As an example, the top three teams in the Metropolitan Division finished the regular season 1st, 2nd and 4th overall in the NHL. Yet, the 2nd and 4th regular season finishers (Pittsburgh & Columbus) played in the opening round and the 1st and 2nd overall finishers are meeting in the second round (Washington & Pittsburgh). Meanwhile, the Atlantic Division's second round matchup features the 9th and 12th best regular season teams (New York Rangers & Ottawa).

So yes, the regular season does count for something but the current playoff format doesn't necessarily yield the easiest path for top finishers.

* See also NHL Tiebreaker Rules and Playoff Seeding.