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Report: NHL Expected To Pay Players July 1 Signing Bonuses

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Detroit Red Wings v New York Rangers”n Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

July 1st is the first day on the NHL calendar, and free agency in a normal year, but the current pandemic means that most business will be pushed to a later date. However, it is expected that NHL players who have signing bonuses on their contract set to kick in tomorrow will be paid in the coming days.

This revelation should provide the NHLPA some leverage in ongoing CBA extension negotiations, because there’s no reason for players to rush back after getting a nice pay day. Not all players have signing bonuses, but many of the major players do. Players don’t draw a salary during the postseason, but instead get a share of playoff pool money based on how far their team goes in the postseason.

Escrow is currently a point of contention for the players, and working on an arrangement that expands what is considered Hockey Related Revenue (upcoming Seattle expansion) should be at the top of their list.

The NHLPA could be voting on something soon, but they shouldn’t rush into anything that doesn’t benefit them in a big way.

Current business aside, the bonuses being paid out could impact the Rangers and how they proceed once the offseason starts. The Blueshirts have a number of players set to get big bonuses such as:

  • Artemiy Panarin - $12,000,000
  • Chris Kreider - $8,000,000
  • Jacob Trouba - $8,000,000
  • Mika Zibanejad - $2,500,000
  • Henrik Lundqvist - $1,000,000
  • Brendan Smith - $1,000,000
  • Marc Staal - $1,000,000
  • Pavel Buchnevich - $500,000

There are also a number of players set to get $92,500 such as Kaapo Kakko, Adam Fox, Filip Chytil, and assorted others. Overall this is pretty much business as usual, but with the cap expected to be flat, the Rangers likely will have to get creative to free up room.

In the case of Smith, although he has a cap hit of $4.35 million, his total compensation for the 2020-21 season is $3.35 million, $1 million of which is paid via a signing bonus. This means that a team desperate to reach the cap floor could be interested in his contract since he’d only be owed $2.35 million for the season.

Then there’s Staal, owed a $1 million bonus, who is set to make just $3.2 million in actual salary. He owns a no move clause, but that shouldn’t prevent the Rangers from asking him if he’s open to a new opportunity that would help the long term position of the organization. It would be a long shot, as there’s no reason for Staal to want to leave the only team he’s known, but a team acquiring his full cap hit, while just paying $3.2 million isn’t the worst way to get to the cap floor.

Lastly there’s Henrik Lundqvist. He carries an $8.5 million cap hit, but during the 2020-21 season his compensation is $5.5 million, $1 million of which is via a signing bonus. That means that a team interested in acquiring his cap hit would be paying him just $4.5 million, or 52.94% the value of his contract. These numbers change in the event the Rangers retain some salary, but it is still worth mentioning.

There will be a lot of time for the team to plan how it will create cap room, as they are currently slated to have $14,391,867 to re-sign free agents such as Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, Jesper Fast, and Alexandar Georgiev among others.