NHL Player Salaries
The player salaries page breaks down how much each player in the league earns on a per season basis. A player is signed to a contract and their average annual salary determines how much they cost against the cap for team they play for. On this page, you can sort players based on their actual cash salaries or their cap hits. In the NHL, players are paid on a per-day basis and teams are charged against the cap on a per-day basis, but both cap hits and salaries are commonly viewed by their total sum over the span of the year, which, in this case, is a season.
The numbers we feature on this page are cap number and salary. Cap number is different than cap hit because cap number is the hypothetical total a player will coast against a team’s salary cap for that season. Heading into a season, a team will look at a player’s cap number assuming they’ll play all 186 days in the season, and operate off of that number since it’s the maximum they can be charged against the cap. The cap hit is based on how many days the players spends on the roster, so, technically a player’s cap hit can come in lower than their cap number at the end of the season.
A cap hit is determined by taking the player’s total salary and dividing it by the number of years of the contract. Even if a player is being paid $1 million one year and $10 million the next, it’ll average out to $5 million per year against the cap so that teams can’t work around the salary cap with back- or front-loaded contracts.
When clicking on a player, you can check out a player’s previous contracts and what their salaries and cap hits have been in the past. You can also see how much of a player’s contract is based on performance bonuses and how much of it is true salary. Players on rookie deals have heavy performance bonuses, as do +35 players signing short-term deals at the end of their careers, while the average player is often just paid in real salary without performance bonuses.
As time goes along, cap hits of individual players will rise. This is the inevitability with the salary cap going up year after year. A few years ago, Sidney Crosby’s $8.7 million cap hit with the Pittsburgh Penguins was at the top of the league, but, as the cap has gone up, he’s been passed by multiple players. Connor McDavid’s $12.5 million deal is now the gold standard for the league, but as the cap continues to rise, he’ll eventually get jumped by a lesser player in free agency.
No player can be paid more than 20 per cent of the team’s salary cap upper limit, as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but as new players sign deals each summer, that upper limit is higher, thus increasing their earning potential.