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Hey there, hockey fan! Let’s talk about the average NHL salary. How much does an average NHL player make?
Well, we can figure that out by looking at all the NHL player contracts currently in place. We’ll use these stats to determine the range of player salaries in the NHL.
So, let’s get started!
The Average NHL Salary
The average NHL player’s salary depends on the team, a player’s skill, and how many games they play in a season. But for all that variation, the range for what players make is actually pretty narrow.
The NHL sets a cap on salaries each year, based on its own profits and other factors. The cap is a minimum and maximum amount of spending allowed per team, with each team deciding how it wants to distribute that money among its players.
For the 2022-23 NHL season, a player’s salary cannot exceed 20 percent of the maximum allowable cap limit, which is set at $81.5 million for.
Therefore, in 2022-23 NHL season, the maximum any one player can make is $16.3 million USD. The minimum salary is currently fixed at $700,000 USD.
According to the CBA, the salary floor for NHL players is $750,000 USD in 2022-23 and $775,000 the year after.
The table below shows the yearly NHL Minimum Salary as totaled in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Minimum Salary (USD)
Now that we know the salary range for NHL players, let’s answer the question you came here to find out.
What’s the average NHL salary?
The average salary for a National Hockey League player is $2,554,463 as of the 2020-21 season. This number is based on 906 contracts. Of these contracts, there are 968 players on active rosters and 838 held under buried or two-way contracts.
As well, 520 players (57.4%) earn $1,000,000 USD or more, while 321 (35.4%) make above the league average.
For this article, salary and cap hit valuations were calculated by adding each player’s base salary along with their respective signing bonuses.
Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs) has the highest salary for the NHL 2020-21 Season, but his teammate, Mitch Marner, holds the record for the highest salary in a single season at $16 million USD.
Marner’s salary decreased this year to $15 million, based on his contract agreement. So why is that?
NHL Salary Structure
If you’re paying attention to the NHL, you may have noticed that some players’ salaries can really vary from year to year.
It’s actually common for players to sign multi-year NHL contracts with front-loaded salaries. Their first-year salary can exceed those in subsequent years of the contract, based on the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). However, there are some restrictions in place that salaries cannot vary too greatly from year-to-year.
This is a good thing for players who have a breakout season their first year because they will be rewarded with a higher salary than average—even if they have a less successful second year of their contract. This also means you shouldn’t be too quick to judge a player by their salary.
You might have heard that players in the NHL can sign contracts that last up to 8 years. That’s true—with a few caveats.
The most important one is that a player can’t sign a contract of 8 years with his current team. This means that if a player already plays for his current team and wants to sign an 8-year contract with them, he has to wait until he finished his 7-year contract before he can sign the next one.
If a player is traded from one team to another, then the new team can offer him an 8-year contract. This is true even if the player was traded during a contract; he can still be offered an 8-year contract by his new team.
But what if you’re signing a player as a free agent? Well, you’re allowed to make an offer of eight years only if the player was on your reserve list at some point since the trade deadline. So if you want to sign Joe Smith who played for the Green Bay Packers last season, but he didn’t play for you before July 1st, then you’re not allowed to offer him an 8-year deal—you’d have to stick with 7 years.
Difference Between Two-way Contact and Buried Contact
Just because the NHL has a salary cap doesn’t mean all players make the same amount of money.
“Two-way contracts” and “buried contracts” are ways to calculate an average NHL salary.
A “two-way contract” means that the player gets paid less if they are in the minors, and more if they are called up to play in the NHL.
A “buried contract” is a large contract that is put on a long-term injured reserve. This means that regardless of whether or not he plays in the NHL, he will earn this full amount.
Average Salary for an NHL Goaltender
Did you know that the average salary for an NHL goaltender ranges from $2.081M to $12M?
According to the current NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, there are 108 goaltenders under contract for the 2020-21 season. The highest-paid goaltender is Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who will make $12 million this year. That’s almost $3 million more than the lowest-paid goalkeeper, Jaroslav Halak of the Montreal Canadiens, who will make $6 million this year.
The top 12 highest-paid goaltenders in the NHL make more than $10 million each, with Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators being #12 at $10 million per year.
In between those two ends of the spectrum are a lot of goalies making quite a bit less but still getting paid quite well. Ben Bishop of the Dallas Stars is making $4.9 million this season, and Frederik Andersen of the Carolina Hurricanes is making $4.5 million this season.
Average Salary for an NHL Defenseman
The average salary for an NHL defenseman is $2,520,890 USD in 2020-21. This is based on 285 contracts signed by defensemen on the season.
Erik Karlsson of the San Jose Sharks is the top earner at $12,000,000 USD. Karlsson is also tied for 5th in the overall salary rankings.
Other notable defensemen include Roman Josi (Nashville Predators) ranked at #11 with an $11,750,000 USD salary.
Not too far behind are Brent Burns (SJS), Drew Doughty (LAK), and Jacob Trouba (NYR) all tied at #13 with a $10,000,000 USD salary.
The average salary for an NHL goaltender is $3,750,000 USD which is ranked 2nd behind the average NHL forward who ranks 1st with an average salary of $5,320,000 USD.
Average Salary for an NHL Forward
The average salary for a forward in the National Hockey League is $2,672,738 USD for the 2020-21 season, Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs will make significantly more than that. In fact, out of all forwards in the league, he is number one with an annual salary of $15,910,000 USD.
You’ve seen the data, you know the facts. Now it’s time to put your general manager’s hat on.
We know that NHL forwards is paid the most out of the three groups. The difference between forwards and defensemen amounted to an additional $150,000.
Would you still draft a forward with your first pick? Or are you going to go for a defenseman or goalkeeper instead?
NHL Team Salary and Roster Obligations
In the National Hockey League, there are rules that each team must follow in order to maintain a balanced league. These rules are designed to promote parity between teams and keep the NHL competitive and entertaining for all of its fans.
One of these rules is the salary cap, which caps the amount of money each team can spend on players’ salaries. The cap is set at $81.5 million per season, though it changes every year as the league’s revenue fluctuates.
This includes bonuses that a player may be owed if they reach certain performance benchmarks during their season with their team (for example, scoring more than 25 goals).
The other rule is the roster size limit, which states that each NHL team can have no more than 23 players on its roster at any given time. This means that if you are an NHL General Manager, you have $81.5 million to spend on up to 23 players!
In the National Hockey League (or NHL), each team is limited to 23 active players, which includes skaters and goaltenders. For a player to be counted as an active player, they must be on the roster, assigned to a minor league team, or on injured reserve.
If a player gets injured or sent back down to the minors, they can be replaced to fulfill their active roster limit. As a result, you will see most teams pay more than just those 23 players throughout the season. The actual number is closer to 30 players per team.
Who is the highest-paid player in the NHL?
The top paid hockey players for 2017 are Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby, with an average annual salary of $12.5 million each, followed by Phil Kessel with an annual salary of $8.75 million, and Alexander Ovechkin with an annual salary of $8.72 million each.
The average player salary in the National Hockey League (NHL) is $2.73 million US, according to a report conducted by CapGeek.com.
That’s not a huge increase over the previous years when the average NHL player’s salary was $2.64 million.
However, that figure still represents an increase of 3% since 2009, when salaries were at an all-time low of $2.55 million.
What is the lowest salary in the NHL?
The lowest salary in hockey? An NHL Player can earn at least $650 000 in a year for a team.
Although there are many players earning millions in the league annually, the NHL has a way of limiting the amount teams can pay their players in total.
And that is where the salary cap in the NHL comes into play.
Therefore, not every player has earned their fortune through playing hockey alone. Many of the richest players have other income streams such as coaching, broadcasting, and even sponsorship deals and product endorsements.
Others have made money by selling memorabilia or investing in other businesses.
How does the average salary of the NHL compare to other sports?
Have you ever wondered, “How much do NHL players make?” and “What is the average NHL salary?” These are fair questions. To help you understand how the average salary of an NHL player compares to other sports, let’s look at a few key statistics.
The average salary for a professional basketball player (NBA) is $7.7 million. In comparison, the average baseball player (MLB) makes $4.4 million per season, and an NFL player’s average salary is around $2.7 million per year.
To recap, the salary structure and range for each NHL position can be summarized as follows:
-Goalies are paid a little less than forwards, but they still make an average of $2.5 million per year.
-Defensemen earn about $2.2 million annually and have the lowest average salary among playing positions.
-Forwards are paid an average of $3.0 million per year, making them the highest-paid players on any given team.
As the league continues to grow in profits, it’s certain that we’ll see the average salary increase as well.
We already know that the base salary is increasing over the next few seasons.
I expect to see that minimum be raised even further once the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed for 2026-27 and beyond.