How the NHL will increase the salary cap, new contracts of NHL stars

Are Young NHL Stars Overpaid? Raising the salary cap will make their contracts cheat

Rodion Vlasov

Rodion Vlasov

Are Young NHL Stars Overpaid?

Right now, hockey players with one successful season are making $7 million — but in a few years, such a deal could turn out to be an incredible stroke of luck.

It seems that any news of a big new contract in the NHL causes two reactions from the fans: “He was terribly overpaid” and “When this bubble bursts.” Yesterday, a new reason for such reasoning appeared: Florida goaltender Spencer Knight signed a three-year contract for $ 4.5 million a year, which will begin in the summer of 2023. At the same time, Spencer is 21 years old and only 36 games in the NHL.

This deal stands out from all the other deals this summer. For example, Dallas goaltender Jake Ettinger, who had an outstanding streak with Calgary and was already playing internationally, received $500,000 less. Stanley Cup winner Darcy Kemper, who switched from Colorado to Washington, is $0.75 million more than young Knight on the new team. Had Knight signed this summer, he would already be in the top 20 most expensive goaltenders in the league, and that’s after just one poor season with a 90.8% save rate.



Kucherov and other Tampa stars were stopped by a 20-year-old debutant.  Knight
Kucherov and other Tampa stars were stopped by a 20-year-old debutant. Knight “hook” Bobrovsky?

In the context of the current ceiling situation, this certainly seems insane. The ten-million contract of Sergei Bobrovsky, whom the press is trying to change somewhere or buy out altogether, has not gone anywhere – and this is after a quite tolerable season for the Panthers, without Vezin’s level, but without failures. Florida will spend $14.5 million on goalies next season.

Bill Daly

Bill Daly

Photo: www.nhl.com

But yesterday’s second piece of news explains the generosity: The NHL is going to massively raise the ceiling. The leadership of the league had such plans a few years ago: on March 4, 2020, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly announced that already in the 2020/2021 season, the salary cap could rise to $ 88 million. However, world history took a different course – in a week NHL arenas were empty for several months.

The NHL is a league that had a rather modest television contract. NBC paid the league $ 200 million a year – it would only be enough for the payments of three teams, compared to the NBA – just seeds. Matches without spectators and a cut in the season hit the NHL finances more than other big four leagues: they had to increase the escrow, which already infuriated hockey players. The ceiling has risen, but by a teaspoon a year, which has forced financially squeezed clubs to release players like Fleury, Pasioretti and Burns almost for free over the past year.

However, the coronavirus crisis has passed, the league came out of it without losses – and the ceiling can return to the growth trajectory. A new TV deal with ESPN and TNT boosts the league’s US media revenue to $750 million a year, and a new Canadian contract is about to be signed. Thanks to this, the ceiling in the 2024/2025 season is projected at $ 88 million, in a year it should increase by another $ 4 million.

Against this background, Knight’s contract becomes much clearer – the NHL teams probably knew what revenues and what ceiling size the league office was projecting. Before that, we saw a few more contracts that looked too upfront: $7.14 million a year for Buffalo’s Teige Thompson, who has only one breakout season on the team without a challenge; $ 8 million each to the duet of Ottawa centers Josh Norris – Tim Stützle, who also have only one bright championship so far. A similar deal by Robert Thomas, who has already established himself in the St. Louis championship playoffs, against this background, looks like a superb success for the club.

Nathan McKinnon

Nathan McKinnon

Photo: www.nhl.com

And Nathan McKinnon’s new contract at this pace in a couple of years will be considered as undervalued as the previous deal. The freshly minted champion of the league, apparently, made concessions to the team: on the open market, the 29th number could have received $ 14-15 million, but instead took $ 12.6 million – an amount that exceeds the salary of the highest paid in the NHL, Connor McDavid by $ 100 thousand. At the same time, as a percentage of the ceiling, Connor’s contract was higher than Nathan’s current deal – and the imminent increase in the ceiling will make McKinnon’s contract even more profitable.



The most expensive players in the NHL did not make it to the finals.  Even stars can't be paid more than $10 million?
The most expensive players in the NHL did not make it to the finals. Even stars can’t be paid more than $10 million?

Therefore, the current contracts of the same Stützle and Norris in a few years have every chance to be perceived as the current contract of McKinnon – that is, predatory for the players. Of course, some deals still look bad – for example, the same Buffalo Thompson is already 24 years old, and his last season so far looks more like a single surge than a real application for a star. But the “blades” have plenty of free money, and soon, thanks to the growth of the ceiling, there will be even more.

In such cases, you can always remember Ovechkin’s first contract at Washington – for 13 years and $ 124 million. Claims then, however, were more about the duration of the deal: it seemed that Ovi with his own style would not roll back that much. However, Alexander worked out a very generous advance, and towards the end of his career, everyone began to admit that that deal was actually a brilliant move, otherwise the best sniper of the century would have received much more.

Alexander Ovechkin at the beginning of his NHL career

Alexander Ovechkin at the beginning of his NHL career

Photo: Albert Dickson/Getty Images

Now it’s up to you to prove your potential. In recent years, much has been said about the fact that the salaries of hockey players look ridiculous against the backdrop of the neighboring NBA, swelling with money. Now the sharp increase in the ceiling puts managers in a difficult position: they must not lose their heads and write out overpriced contracts. The example of the same NBA shows: bad deals do not disappear from the league with any monstrous ceiling increases.

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