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What Is the Average Salary in the NHL?

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The National Hockey League is the professional major league association of hockey. The NHL is comprised of 30 teams in the U.S. and Canada. Professional hockey is quite lucrative but these athletes work hard over a long season to earn their keep., playing 82 regular games each season. Regulation season begins in late September/early October and ends in mid-April; the playoffs start in mid-April, culminating with the Stanley Cup final series of games in June.

Average NHL Salary

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The average NHL player salary in the 2010-2011 season is $2.4 million. It is typical for a $4 million player to work alongside a teammate with a $700,000 salary. General manager and coach salaries are not publicly disclosed to the league or the public. The minimum NHL player salary, per the collective bargaining agreement, is $500,000 in 2009-10 and 2010-11. The maximum seasonal salary for players new to the NHL is $900,000 for 2009 and 2010; and $925,000 for 2011 draftees.

Average Salary by Team

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The average salaries paid per player, in the 2009-2010 season, by team ranged from $2.5 million to $812,500. The Carolina Hurricanes topped the chart while the Tampa Bay Lighting paid the lowest salary average. Seven other teams paid in the $2 million dollar range--New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames and the Los Angeles Kings. Most NHL teams, 17 of them, paid an average salary per player ranging from $1.8 million to $1 million. Only five teams--Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, Anaheim Ducks and the Tampa Bay Lightning paid average salaries of under a million dollars per player.

Highest Paid Players

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In the 2010-2011 season, the highest paid NHL player is Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier, whose salary is $10 million. As team captain, he has an 11-year contract worth a total of $85 million. Goaltender Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks is the second-highest paid with a $10 million salary, reducing to $6.7 million in the 2011-2012 season. Other players with the highest salary include two of the highest scorers in the game, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, who each receive $9 million per season.

Salary Caps

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Each NHL team has a salary cap, which means the salaries they pay collectively cannot exceed a certain figure. In the 2010-2010 season, the salary cap is $59.4 million. Managers must determine how to distribute this total among all players. However, there is also an individual player salary cap. The player salary cap is 20 percent of the team’s salary cap the year their contract is effective. In the 2010-2011 season, this equates to 20 percent of the $59.4 million cap or $11.9 million. Once signed, players contracts cannot be negotiated due to a collective bargaining agreement between owners and players.


Francine Richards is a licensed multi-state insurance agent with years of human resources and insurance industry experience. Her work has appeared on Blue Cross Blue Shield websites and newsletters, the Houston Chronicle and The Nest. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland.

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