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Photo Credit: NHL.com

Fun with the CBA! Minimum salaries and buried contracts

The dust has settled on free agent frenzy and the 2017-18 NHL season is just over the horizon. Albeit, a long horizon with plenty of sun filled days left to go.

With that, there is some housekeeping that can be done in regards to salaries for the 2017-18 season. This isn’t new information but provides us the opportunity to explain the minimum salaries for an NHL contract and also the maximum allowable buried contract in the AHL for this season and the remaining seasons in this CBA.

We’ll start with Article 11.12 (a) of the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, which explains the minimum salary allowed under an NHL standard player contract

The minimum salary for the 2017-18 season increases $75,000 to $650,000 for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. The remainder of the CBA does see some further increases:

The minimum compensation of $650,000 has been seen quite regularly over this summer and represents 0.87% of the $75,000,000 salary cap upper limit.

With that change in the minimum salary, that also affects the amount of salary that can be buried on a one-way contract without counting towards the salary cap. This number is determined by the lowest possible salary plus $375,000. It is broken down in Article 50.5 (diB6) of the NHL CBA:

Which means the allowable salary on a one-way deal that can be buried in the AHL is as follows:

  • 2014-15: $550,000 + $375,000 = $925,000
  • 2015-16: $575,000 + $375,000 = $950,000
  • 2016-17: $575,000 + $375,000 = $950,000
  • 2017-18: $650,000 + $375,000 = $1,025,000
  • 2018-19: $650,000 + $375,000 = $1,025,000
  • 2019-20: $700,000 + $375,000 = $1,075,000
  • 2020-21: $700,000 + $375,000 = $1,075,000
  • 2021-22: $750,000 + $375,000 = $1,125,000

So, with the $75,000 increase in the minimum salary for the 2017-18 season, that is reflected with an increase to the buriable amounts.

There have been quite a few one-way contracts below those thresholds that have been handed out over the summer. But it’s worth noting that that really only affects how much the player will be paid and shouldn’t be seen too much as a team giving in. Many of those players will still likely make their way to their organizations respective AHL clubs.

An example of a player that is really close to that is Yanni Gourde with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who signed a two year, one-way deal with an AAV of $1,000,000. That contract is still able to be sent to the AHL without any impact to the NHL salary cap.

We won’t see any increases in the minimum compensation or the amount able to be buried until 2019-20.


NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement can be found here.

  • Fortitude00

    A lot of people don’t understand the minor league / entry league contracts so its good you posted this. They really have little impact on salary cap if at all in most cases. Reading on other page people getting upset about Chaput, and its like who cares.
    On bad teams you need guys like this to fill in for injuries because you have no depth.

  • Canuck4Life20

    I actually see one-way contracts for players like Chaput and Biega as a good strategy for teams like the Canucks to use their financial clout to maintain depth in the organization. There are a lot of teams with internal budgets that could be very hesitant to take a player on waivers with a one-way deal. If it doesn’t work out they could be stuck with him if they try to send him down at a later date and another team doesn’t claim them.

    • tyhee

      We see this supposed effect on waiver claims mentioned from time to time, but is it realistic in many cases?

      Waiver claims aren’t intended to be for minor league players-they exist to allow players that should be in the NHL to get there rather than get stockpiled behind too much depth. A team can’t assign a player to the minors without further exposing him on waivers-so to get a player on waivers to the minors you first claim him, then put him on waivers again. If his initial team is the only claimant, they not only get him back but they then get to assign him to the minors.

      It’s hard to see, given the necessity to put the player back on waivers, why 1-way vs 2-way contracts should have much effect on whether a player is claimed on waivers. If he is claimed, it is, with a few exceptions, with the thought of playing him in the NHL, not saving money on a minor league player on a 2 way deal.

      • chrìs

        there is no waivers at the very beginning of the season, so teams with good ownership can sign a few of these guys. depending on how many contracts the have on the books. that way if there is an injury later on in the season or if a player on a two way beats out a vet in training camp for a spot its no harm no foul putting these guys down in the minors as depth for a future call up.

        • Braindead Benning

          YAY, It’s a perfect remedy towards and,
          a spin when management can’t comprehend between what thier direction was from the beginning?
          Had they kept the 2nd rounders and many others draft picks and made plan from the start then this discussion would make more sense…

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    Ryan, as a followup question, how are salaries above that amount counted against the NHL cap? As in, if a guy is making 1.05 million, does that entire amount count or only the amount above the threshold? I guess I could look it up but you’re the one who has so much fun with the CBA.

  • Roy

    Hey, as a regular reader, can you guys post any updates on the Horvat negotiations? I know you’re not McKenzie or Friedman, but why isn’t he signed yet? I know he’s an RFA but we’re also almost in August, signings have died to a murmur, multiple players are now going to arbitration who aren’t keystone but put up points (Horvat is keystone), and there has been not even a hint from anyone. Why am I the only one who thinks this is weird.

    • Fortitude00

      All they need is the anti Banning crowd to start complaining about the contract not being signed. It’s in their best interest to get the deal done sooner rather then later. They don’t need anymore bad press especially it what should be a dismal season.