As the National Hockey League continues to grow, so do the monstrous salaries of their players.
It seems as though each year we see bigger contracts handed out than the previous year. But with all that money being thrown around, when do NHL players see any of it?
NHL players are paid their base salary twice a month, typically the 15th and 30th of each month, throughout the NHL season. Their semimonthly payments are calculated by determining their daily salary, which is done by dividing their salary by the number of calendar days in an NHL regular season.
Let’s take a look at an example and break it down:
- Player A has a season salary of $1,000,000
- Let’s say there are 190 days in an NHL regular season
- Divide Player A’s $1,000,000 salary by the numbers of days in the season, which is 190 for this example.
- This means Player A’s daily salary would be $5,264.16
- Players get paid twice a month, every 15 days.
- This means twice a month, Player A would receive two $78,962.40 payments.
Of course, this will change slightly for months that have more or less than 30 days. This equation also does not take into account escrow, which NHL players must contribute a percentage of their paychecks to.
How does an NHL player get paid?
When I picture an NHL player signing a massive contract, like Auston Matthews signing his 5 year $58,195,000 deal, I always picture briefcases of money being dropped off at his doorstep. But, this isn’t reality.
In reality, and as agreed upon in the collective bargaining agreement between players and the league, NHL players are paid their salary via direct deposit at the middle and end of each month during the regular season.
These payments do not include things like signing bonuses or playoff bonuses.
When do NHL players receive their signing bonus?
NHL signing bonuses are a tool a player and their agent can use to make their contracts “buy out proof” or “lockout proof”. Receiving the majority of their contractually agreed upon money in one lump sum payment as opposed to being paid out throughout the season.
But when do NHL teams pay players their signing bonuses? NHL players will receive their signing bonus after the season is over in the month of July, typically July 1st. Signing bonus dates are eligible to be negotiated in the player’s contract if they wish to receive it on another date other than July 1st.
John Tavares is a great example of having a buy out proof contract by way of signing bonuses.
As you can see, Tavares receives the majority of his contract money through one time lump sum payments via signing bonus each year, while his base salary which he gets paid throughout the entire year, is only $910,000.
How much do NHL players make per game?
A common misconception is that NHL players only get paid per game, which just simply isn’t true.
NHL Players do not get paid per game, they earn money daily throughout the regular season and are paid out semimonthly. How much a player is paid per day is calculated by dividing the number of days in a regular season by the player’s base salary number.
People tend to think of NHL players as only having to show up to work on game days, when the truth is being an NHL player is a full time job day in and day out.
Whether it be working out, on ice practices, eating right to ensure you have the energy levels needed to compete at a high level etc. Playing in the NHL is a daily grind.
There is so much more that goes into being an NHL player than showing up and playing games. Which is why NHL players earn money daily as opposed to earning money per game.
How much do NHL players make on average?
The NHL is filled with different sized contracts, from the lowest paid NHL players like Jason Spezza who signed a contract with an annual average value of $750,000 to Connor McDavid who signed a contract with an annual average value of $12,500,000.
But on average, how much do NHL players make? On average, NHL players make $2,073,089 USD. This number is based on 1,332 signed contracts for the 2020-21 NHL season, including both one-way and two-way contracts.
Average NHL signing bonus
Signings bonuses aren’t offered to all players in the NHL, but when they are, they often range from $15,000 all the way up to $12,000,000.
The average NHL signing bonus is $749,571, based on the 504 active signing bonuses in the 2020-21 NHL season
All data provided by capfriendly.com
Do NHL players get paid while injured?
Not all the major sports leagues offer guaranteed contracts in which their players are paid their regular amount regardless of how they got injured.
In the NHL, players are played their full salary regardless of whether they are on the injured reserve or not.
Teams can move injured players to the long term injured reserve for cap relief, but even then they must pay the player their full wages.
Do retired NHL players get paid?
Most NHL players don’t have backup plans for when they can no longer play the game. They spent so much time attempting to compete at the highest level of the game that it left no other time to learn other skills or trades. The question here is, do retired NHL players get paid? And if so, how much?
The NHL offers it’s retired players a pension. Every player who has ever played an NHL game is eligible for this pension. However, how much a player receives from the pension depends entirely on how many NHL games they have accumulated. The NHL’s pension has a maximum payout of $285,000.
You need 800 games played to be eligible for the NHL’s maximum pension benefit.
For example, if a player has played in the NHL for 10 seasons having recorded 82 games played for each of those seasons (820 games played), he will be eligible for the maximum pension benefit.
A player who has spent his career between the AHL and the NHL who hasn’t reached the 800 games played threshold will still be eligible for the pension. But the amount they are eligible for is prorated for how many games the player has played.
Players are eligible to start withdrawing from their pension at age 45.
To put it simply:
- A player who has met the 800 game threshold will earn the maximum $285,000 per year from the NHL’s pension benefit.
- A player who has played 616 games will earn a slightly less prorated amount, roughly $228000 per year, from the NHL’s pension benefit.
I always grew up thinking NHL players were paid per the game. But, as we now know, this isn’t true.
I think if I were in the NHL I would opt to have a contract much like John Tavares of the Toronto Maple Leafs, where the majority of my money is deposited into my bank at the start of each summer, wouldn’t that be awesome?
If your takeaway thoughts from this post are that you went into the wrong profession, don’t worry because that’s exactly how I feel now having written this entire thing.
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What’s up! I’m Shayne, and I’ve been immersed in the world of winter sports since before I could walk. My dad was a hockey player who had a passion for snowmobiling, which he passed down to me, and my mom was a figure skater who loved to take us on snowboarding and skiing trips as kids. Safe to say, I’ve learned so much about most winter sports over the years and have a passion for passing on my knowledge to others, as my parents did with me.