Wage Structure In The NHL
By Laura Lee - February 18, 2023

The Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon received an eight-year, $100.8 million extension during the NHL offseason, which stood out among the league’s young stars’ hefty contracts. On top of the nine such acquisitions from the previous year, a deluge of funding totaling at least $60 million has been flowing into other up-and-comers since mid-July. The 25-year-old captain of the Edmonton Oilers, McDavid, will earn $15.3 million this season before taxes and agent’s fees, making him the highest-paid player in hockey for the second consecutive season and the fourth time in the previous five.

There is some cause for hope among the players. For the first time in three seasons, the NHL’s wage cap is up this year, and according to insiders in the sport, the league anticipates a sizable ceiling increase in 2024–25 that will drive up compensation. Additionally, that forecast indicates increasing revenue that might eliminate the players’ debt to owners by the conclusion of the following season, providing players a chance to recover some of their escrow funds eventually.

Getty images/National Hockey League/ Jeff Vinnick / Contributor

Even worse, an escrow structure that guarantees that the league’s players and team proprietors equally divide earnings means that Hockey players are still suffering the impacts of the pandemic. A portion of each player’s salary is deducted from their pay during a given season and placed in an escrow account until the NHL calculates its revenue. Depending on how much money the league ultimately brought in, the money is either returned to the players or turned over to the owners.

The issue is that the players amassed a considerable debt to the owners due to Covid-19’s empty arena policy and severe impact on league earnings. The owners kept all 17.2% of the players’ salaries held in escrow during the previous season. The escrow amount is 10% this season, which is more doable, but participants may anticipate not receiving any money back again. The salary and bonus amounts listed in Forbes’ earnings list take this 10% decrease into account, bringing Seguin’s on-ice earnings down to $11.7 million, for example.