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What Is the Minimum Salary in the AHL?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

The American Hockey League, or AHL, is a professional ice hockey league composed of 30 teams, 26 of which are in the United States. The remaining four teams are in Canada. The AHL is a combination of two original leagues: The Canadian American Hockey League, founded in 1926, and the International Hockey League, which got its start in 1929. During the mid-1930s, both leagues lost several teams and decided to join forces in order to keep the league strong.

Tip

A player in the AHL can earn anywhere between $39,000 and $350,000 annually. Occasionally, an NHL player is sent back down to the AHL, but gets to keep his much bigger salary. Most AHL players are signed to two-way NHL deals. When they are called up to the NHL, they can make a lot more, between $500,000 and $10 million annually.

Job Description

The AHL is a professional ice hockey league that acts as the top development league for the National Hockey League. The basic job description is that you practice and play hockey – a lot. There are three types of contracts in the AHL:

  1. SPC: the standard players’ contract (also known as an AHL contract)
  2. PTO: the professional try-out contract
  3. ATO: the amateur try-out contract

Any AHL players who are not signed to one of these three contracts are on NHL contracts. This means they will be assigned to their respective AHL clubs by their parent team.

Education Requirements

There are no education requirements to become a member of the AHL. It's all about your talent as a hockey player. Most players, however, begin their careers in the junior ice hockey leagues. Next stop is the AHL, then the NHL if you're good enough. The AHL serves as the top development league for the National Hockey League, but players are occasionally signed as free agents based on scouting information.

Salary

A player in the AHL can earn anywhere between $39,000 and $350,000 annually. Occasionally, an NHL player is sent back down to the AHL, but gets to keep his much bigger salary. Most AHL players are signed to two-way NHL deals. When they are called up to the NHL, they can make a lot more, between $500,000 and $10 million annually.

Some specifics: In 2015, Chris Bourque of the Hartford Wolf Pack signed an AHL contract for $350,000. That same year, Paul Thompson of the Albany Devils signed an AHL contract for $200,000.

Game Experience

Player development is a top priority in the AHL. To that end, the AHL and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association have the following development rule in place:

"Of the 18 skaters (not counting two goaltenders) that teams may dress for a game, at least 13 must be qualified as development players. Of those 13, 12 must have played in 260 or fewer professional games (including AHL, NHL and European elite leagues), and one must have played in 320 or fewer professional games. All calculations for development status are based on regular-season totals as of the start of the season."

In order to be considered a rookie, a player must have played in less than 25 AHL and/or NHL regular-season games in any of the preceding seasons. They also can't have played in six or more AHL and/or NHL regular-season games in each of any two preceding seasons, or in 100 or more games in a European Elite League. If a player is 26 or older, he cannot be considered a rookie.

Job Growth Trend

In all sports, employment of athletes and sports competitors is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Competition is fierce in any professional sports league, and expansion is rare. Creating new teams can be very costly and risky. It requires strong support from fans, as well as local and state governments. When leagues do decide to expand, they usually create only one or two teams at a time.

References

About the Author

Heather Skyler is a journalist and novelist who has written for wide variety of publications, including Newsweek, The New York Times and SKY magazine.