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

Friday, October 4, 2019

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 2019-2020 NHL player cap hit and salary figures for the top ten players in each position per Cap Friendly.

      2019-2020 NHL Player Cap Hit By Position

Forward  $m      Defense     $m      Goalie       $m
McDavid  12.5         Karlsson 11.5  Price 10.5
Panarin  11.6         Doughty 11  Bobrovsky 10
Matthews  11.6         Subban Lundqvist       8.5
Tavares  11        Ekman-Larsson 8.2  Fleury         7
Marner  10.8        Burns Rask         7
Toews  10.5         Carlson 8 Gibson         6.4
Kane  10.5         Trouba Hellebuyck  6.1
Kopitar  10         Hedman 7.8  Holtby      6.1
Eichel  10         Weber 7.8 Crawford         6
Seguin  9.8         Byfuglien 7.6  Schneider        6


      2019-2020 NHL Player Salary By Position

Forward  $m      Defense     $m        Goalie  $m
Marner  16        Karlsson 14.5  Price 15
Tavares  15.9        Doughty 12  Bobrovsky 11.5
Matthews  15.9         Carlson 12 Fleury     8.5
McDavid  15         Trouba 12  Quick      7
Panarin  14         Burns 10  Lundqvist      7
Seguin  13.5       Subban 10 Jones       6.7
Benn  13         Suter Rask  6.5
Aho  12         Ekblad Gibson    6.4
Kucherov  12        Schmidt 8.8 Rinne      6
Rantanen 12        McDonagh 8.4 Varlamov 6
Stone 12     

Hellebuyck 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 Marner ($16m) being paid the most this season, it's actually McDavid ($12.5m), who costs the most consuming more of his team's $81.5m 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 1989-1990, 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.