- For the 2022-23 NHL season, the minimum wage for a one-way player is $750,000.
- This salary was established by the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement.
- As of the season opener, 81 players were signed to a league minimum contract.
Everyone is used to hearing stories of teams with giant payrolls and athletes on mega contracts, but what about those on the other end of the spectrum?
The minimum salary in the NHL is defined by the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and as of the 2022-23 season opener, there were 81 players signed to the league minimum amount.
What Is the Minimum NHL Salary?
The current NHL CBA — initially ratified in Jan. 2013 and extended in July 2020 — increased the minimum salary from $700,000 to $750,000 for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons. The same agreement stipulates that the minimum salary will increase again to $775,000 for the 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26 seasons. Under the agreed extension, the CBA will expire on Sept. 15, 2026.
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Unlike other major sports like baseball and football, players on big-money contracts are the anomaly in the NHL. Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) is the highest-paid player for the 2022-23 season with a cap hit of $12.5 million, but many players will never sign contracts above the league minimum.
Zach Parise (New York Islanders), Sam Gagner (Winnipeg Jets), and Marc Staal (Florida Panthers) are all established players signed to the league minimum.
Can Players Be Paid Less Than the Minimum Salary?
It may seem counterintuitive, but players can be paid under the minimum salary in certain situations. Players cannot sign contracts for less than the minimum salary amount, but there are circumstances where they may not earn the full amount they’ve signed for, even if that means pocketing less than the minimum salary.
Players on two-way contracts — i.e., players whose salary is dependent on the league in which they play — and players signed during the season are paid a prorated amount of the minimum salary based on how many games they actually played in the NHL. If a player is sent down from the NHL to the AHL, they’ll immediately resume being paid at their minor league salary.
Another situation where a player will not make their agreed salary is if they are fined by the league. This means they have to forfeit a certain amount of money, regardless of whether it will mean they’ll fall below the minimum salary amount.
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