blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: NHL Highest Player Salary & Cap Hit By Position

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.