After signing an eight-year extension worth $55-million over the weekend, Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook secured his family’s financial future for generations.
And, thanks to the unique way his new contract is structured, Seabrook doesn’t have to worry about losing much of that income if the NHL goes through another work stoppage before it’s over.
His is the latest contract to include “lockout protection” because it calls for minimal salary to be paid in 2020-21 and 2022-23. Several industry sources contacted Monday insist that this will soon become the standard for long-term deals.
“Any contract for an elite player going into 2020-21 will include almost all signing bonus and little salary,” said one.
"Lockout protection is already on everybody's radar," added another.
The significance behind the dates is simple: The NHL and NHL Players' Association each have a right to terminate the current collective bargaining agreement in September 2020. If neither chooses to do so, it will expire in September 2022.
More than half of Seabrook's new deal is scheduled to be paid via signing bonus -- once-yearly cheques on July 1 that aren't affected by a potential lockout. Only his actual salary would decrease if the NHL experienced the third one of those in two decades, and he's due to earn just $1-million in each of the seasons where it is possible.
This is not the first contract of its kind: Flyers winger Jakub Voracek and Rangers centre Derek Stepan signed extensions over the summer with similar structures, while Ryan O'Reilly's deal in Buffalo is paid entirely by signing bonuses other than a $1-million salary per season.
As for Seabrook, he was thrilled to sign off on a maximum-length contract that will take him to age 39 with the team that drafted him.
"It's a huge relief," he told reporters over the weekend.
Other than the pressure of trying to live up to a monster contract, he doesn't have much to fret about.
Here is a breakdown of Brent Seabrook's eight-year extension with the Blackhawks that kicks in next summer:
2016-17: $4.5M salary, $4.5M signing bonus
2017-18: $4.5M salary, $4.5M signing bonus
2018-19: $4.5M salary, $4.5M signing bonus
2019-20: $4M salary, $3.5M signing bonus
2020-21: $1M salary, $4M signing bonus
2021-22: $4M salary, $2M signing bonus
2022-23: $1M salary, $4M signing bonus
2023-24: $2.5M salary, $2M signing bonus