NHL rookies receive salary boost in new CBA

The kids are cashing in like never before in the new NHL.

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In case you missed the news yesterday, the NHL and NHL Players Association (NHLPA) have agreed to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The NHLPA is expected to vote on and ratify the agreement later this week, at which point it will officially go into effect for the next five seasons.

Among the changes to player contracts in the league’s new CBA is the maximum allowable salary for an entry-level contract. Incredibly, the amount that an NHL rookie can earn in salary has been capped since the league instituted the salary cap with after the lockout of 2005. So, while salaries across the NHL has skyrocketed in the 15 years since the dawn of the “Cap Era”, rookies have seen their earning power remain flat… until now.

So… you might be thinking that the NHL would release the shackles from rookies, right? No entry-level salary limits, right? Think again… this is the NHL and if the owners can keep their players under lock and key they’ll do it for as long as they can. 

According to TSN hockey insider Frank Seravalli, the maximum allowable entry-level contract salary is now $1 million annually, up from the previous amount of $850,000.

Check it out:

Okay… I get that this isn’t a complete overhaul of the system, but calling a $150,000 raise a SLIGHT raise is a little disingenuous. After all, it’s a nearly 20% raise.

In any case, you can now expect top prospects who sign an entry-level contract to earn $1 million in salary. Of course, with signing bonuses and performance bonuses the actual amount and the players' salary cap hit could be much, MUCH higher than their $1 million salary. Take last year's Calder Trophy winning rookie of the year Elias Pettersson, for example. He racked up nearly $3 million in signing and performance bonuses, brining his actual annual earnings up to $3.775 million... a significant jump from $850,000. If Pettersson were to sign that deal today, there's a good chance that he'd be earning much closer to $4 million annually. A tiny blip on the business end of hockey, but a HUGE disparity in everyday dollars and cents.