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NHL Team Salaries, NHL Team Salary Caps
The team salaries page breaks down each team’s financial situation based on their salary cap hit. After the 2004-05 lockout, the league implemented a hard salary cap that teams aren’t allowed to go over. A cap hit for an individual player is determined by the player’s average annual salary, which stops teams from front- or back-loading contracts. This is done in order to create a competitive balance within the league. On this page you’ll also find how teams spend money based on position and how much free cap room teams have to make additions to their roster.
On this page, you can sort by which teams have the highest and which teams have the lowest cap hits. While the goal of the salary cap is to create a competitive balance, the reality here is that some teams operate with a tight internal budget. Teams like the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils are smaller markets and will not spend to the upper limit whereas the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins will spend to the top. The league has also implemented a salary cap floor so that teams can’t have a payroll under a certain amount.
This year’s salary cap ceiling is $79.5 million. Teams can’t go above that figure. The only relief they can get is Bonus Cushion money, which is based on the total amount of player performance bonuses on a team. Teams with many players on entry-level deals will have a high bonus cushion to help them stay under the salary cap. Teams can also get a Long-Term Injured Reserve bonus. If a player is injured for a certain amount of time, they can go on the LTIR, and the league will give their team a salary cap bonus that allows them to sign or trade for a player to replace the injured player.
Salary caps operate on a day-by-day basis. The league’s season is broken down into 186 days and each player has a daily cap hit. To figure this out, simply divide the cap hit by 186 in order to see what a player is costing that team against the cap on that day. Often times, you’ll see teams send players to the AHL during long off periods in order to save daily cap expenditure that can be used at the trade deadline.
Teams are not allowed to go over or under the salary cap ceiling. If a team does go over, moves may not be approved by the league. Beyond that, trying to go over the salary cap or signing contracts in the summer that would put the team over the cap come October could result in a team forfeiting draft picks or having front office executives suspended or fined.