Salary and Contract Glossary

Team and Player salary data provided by Cap Friendly Logo


Salary: a player’s salary as shown on is the total compensation for a player at the NHL level that includes signing bonuses, but not performance bonuses. A player’s NHL salary in 2017-18 must be a minimum of $650,000 and maximum of 20% of the salary cap. The minimum salary rises every two years, and will be $700,000 starting in 2019-20.

Expiry: The expiry field shows the free agent status of a player in a season where the player’s contract expires. Free agents can either be Restricted Free Agents (RFAs) or Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs).

– Restricted Free Agents (RFAs) have rights that belong to an NHL team and that team has certain levels of protection. The only team that can sign an RFA with a standard player contract is the one that owns that player’s rights. Other teams are eligible to sign RFAs, but only via offer sheets. Offer sheets give the team that owns the player’s rights the choice to either (1) match the offer sheet and keep the player, or (2) allow the player to sign with the new team, and receive draft pick compensation based on the value of the contract.

– Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) are completely free to negotiate and sign a contract with any team without any penalties or restrictions, rights of refusal or compensation to their existing team. Players automatically become UFA when their contract expires if they are 27 years of age or older (as of July 1), or have 7 accrued NHL seasons. Players can also qualify for UFA status if they are 25 years of age or older, have accrued 3 or more professional seasons while signed to a standard player’s contract but have played less than 80 NHL games (or 28 NHL games for goaltenders). Other scenarios where a player becomes a UFA are (1) when RFAs are not tendered a qualifying offer by the team that owns their rights, (2) players that are undrafted in the three years they are eligible for the NHL Draft, and (3) drafted players who are not signed before their rights expire.

Cap Hit: a player’s cap hit is determined as the average annual value of their current contract. Cap hit is calculated by dividing the total salary plus signing bonuses of a contract by the contract’s length. Performance bonuses are not included in a player’s cap hit, but will affect a team’s cap and a player’s cap hit if the performance bonuses are achieved.

Clause: Clauses are additional parameters added to contracts that protect the player in certain transactions. No-Movement Clauses (NMCs) and No-Trade Clauses (NTCs) are negotiated by a player and his representatives to limit the types of transactions that can be performed by the team with respect to that player. Players are only eligible for these clauses in years when they would be eligible for Unrestricted Free Agency (27 years of age or older, or 7 or more accrued seasons).

– An NMC prohibits a team from moving a player by trade, loan or waivers, or assigning that player to the minors without the player’s consent. This keeps the player with the pro team unless that player permits a move by one of these means. An NMC does not restrict a team from buying out or terminating a player’s contract.

– An NTC is less prohibitive, as it only places restrictions on movement by trade. A player with an NTC cannot be traded by a team unless the player provides consent. A Partial or Modified NTC is often less restrictive than a Full NTC, and is defined by the conditions outlined in the player’s contract. Often these NTCs have conditions that give the player the right to provide a list of teams to which the player can or cannot be traded. Many players will have NMCs tied to their contracts with Partial or Modified NTCs. These prevent the team from moving the player via loan or waivers, but give the team options for trading the player.


Projected Total Cap Hit: Projected Total Cap Hit is a projection of the cap hit amounts for a team at the end of a season. It is calculated using pro-rated cap hits of all players and adjustments (buyouts, buried cap hits, etc) based on the number of days they impacted the team’s cap over the course of a season. Players and adjustments impacting the active roster currently are projected to impact the roster for the remainder of the season.

In the off-season, this is a simplified number that is a snapshot based on the current active roster if all players and adjustments were to impact the roster for the entire duration of a season. This includes all player cap hits (excluding potential performance bonuses) and any other cap hit obligations including retained cap hit, buyouts, deferred salary cap overages, buried cap hits, etc.

Salary Cap: The salary cap is a league-wide limit to the amount each NHL team can spend on its roster in a single season. Each team’s compliance with the NHL Salary Cap is based on the team’s active roster cap hits (averaged value of all players’ current contracts), but also includes any other cap obligations such as buyout amounts, deferred salary cap overages from previous seasons, buried player cap hits, cap amounts retained in past trades, etc. The current NHL salary cap is $75 million.

Projected End of Season Cap Space: Projected End of Season Cap Space is an estimate of the expected cap space a team will have at the end of the season. It is calculated using prorated cap hits of all players and adjustments (buyouts, buried cap hits, etc) based on the number of days they impacted the team’s cap over the course of a season. Players and adjustments impacting the active roster currently are projected to impact the roster for the remainder of the season. Note: The total here does not include an adjustment reflecting any LTIR credits used or projected to be used by the team.

In the off-season, Projected End of Season Cap Space is calculated based on a projected opening day roster, and that roster staying as is for the course of the entire regular season.

Cap Space Today: Cap Space Today is an estimate of the annual cap hit a team can add on the current day of the NHL schedule. It calculates the remaining number of days in the NHL season and uses this in conjunction with a team’s projected cap space and available LTIR to determine the total annual cap hit that can be added. For example, a team with $2 million in projected cap space at the midpoint of the season would have $4 million in ‘Cap Space Today’, allowing them to add a player with a $4 million cap hit to the roster.

In the off-season, ‘Cap Space Today’ shows a value that matches ‘Projected Total Cap Hit’ because there remain the same number of days in the NHL season throughout the off-season.