Are NHL Contracts Guaranteed?

In the NHL, there are several different contract categories. It includes entry-level, one-way, and two-way agreements. Also, some of these contracts permit the addition of incentive terms and bonus payments. Thus, signing a regular player’s contract with an NHL team does not guarantee that you will play for the team you have chosen.

Are NHL contracts guaranteed? Most NHL agreements are secured, and players will receive the amount of money they agreed to. They cannot be fired from a squad and violate the agreement they made. A purchase, deferral, or, in extreme situations, agreement cancellation can allow a player to refrain from a part of their agreement.

What are the other details of these agreements and how they are applicable? Below I am going to discuss this. Go below and have a look at them.

Guaranteed contracts in the NHL

Commonly, NHL contracts are assured financial commitments. Let’s suppose a player agrees to a three-year deal worth 9 million dollars overall. The skater will receive the whole $9 million for three years. The agreement cannot be drafted as only one part of the payment is assured and the remaining is not. You will get exactly what you agreed to!

The squad will face a danger associated with the duration and the financial commitment. This duration includes the number of years committed. Additionally, after you have signed the contract, neither the period nor the sum of the deal can be modified or reformed in any condition.

The skaters can prove themselves and get excellent value for the team. They can receive fair compensation, or turn into what is known as “an anchor” of a deal. 

Guaranteed contracts in the NHL

In the NHL, every squad will have skaters who fall into each group. Managers’ job is to accurately analyze their players and sign deals. They will have to sign contracts that will benefit the squad in the short and long term.

Not all danger is eliminated once the player signs the contract. But they generally don’t have to be concerned about getting any unguaranteed cash. They will be paid the full amount they agreed to.

There are a few instances where the player receives less than the full sum of money. But this is not common in the history of the NHL.

You can also read this article: What Is The Average Salary For An NHL Player?

Buyout Provision

The team has the choice of taking out a buyout clause. The team can do this if they determine that the player is no longer worth the price due to poor performance or other factors. Even players with multi-year and multi-million-dollar contracts sometimes face this.

The NHL’s recent agreement on collective bargaining and regulations allows players under the age of 26 to buy out their agreements. For this, they will get one-third (33.3%) of their agreed pay. The club is required to pay the athlete two-thirds (66.6%) of his compensation if his age is more than 26.

Buyout Provision

It is a tricky decision because a buyout requires the team to pay the full purchase sum to their wage structure. They will have to pay for twice as long as the player’s full contract. 

Most management teams prevent buying a player out by this approach. It is because it has an impact on the team’s overall earning potential.

Players typically have just one or two years left on their agreement when they are taken out. Also, it doesn’t happen very commonly. Slightly 73 sportsmen had their agreements bought out between 2014 and 2019 at an estimate of over 12 years. The 31 NHL teams have about 800 players in total. So, it is clear that there are very few deal buyouts.

Year Number of Buyouts 


Many hockey viewers will be unaware of the complex escrow deal. The NHL has this deal with the NHLPA (NHLPA). This is a part of a game’s compensation that the club keeps. This deal is usually between eight and twelve percent. The skaters will receive some part of this payment after the campaign. 

According to the recent collective bargaining agreement, the club and NHLPA will receive 50% of the team’s earnings. The teams’ yearly wage cap is determined by the season’s expected profits.


For instance, the payroll cap will be fixed at $85 million per club. The NHLPA will compensate for the shortfall using the funds kept in escrow. They will pay an escrow if the net profit for the year is $75 million per team.

Thus, the individuals would receive their escrow money back if the yearly profit reached $85 million. So, when the players lose more revenue to escrow, it will result in a larger wage cap.

You can also read this article: What Is A Bridge Deal In NHL?

Contract Terminated for Poor Conduct

Sometimes, a skater’s agreement has been canceled because of a significant violation of the terms of the agreement. Also, the NHL is very strict with its rules and regulations. So, this is not common and only occurs very rarely. 

Here are four examples of the past ten years where this has occurred.

1. Patrik Berglund

This hockey skater only had some personal problems and was burned out from the match. Due to his failure to show a good performance in training, he was dismissed. As a result, his agreement for the final 3.5 months was revoked.

Patrik Berglund

2. Jake Dotchin

This guy was unprepared and out of condition to play hockey at the beginning of the year. This was referred to as a “substantial violation of the agreement.” Due to this issue, his agreement was canceled.

Jake Dotchin

3. Slava Voynov 

Due to allegations of domestic violence, Voynov’s contract was canceled after the remaining four years. This was the only reason for his agreement to be terminated.

Slava Voynov

4. Mike Richards

With the club and NHLPA, his contract was terminated through negotiation. But the Royals had to add some payment to the wage structure while still paying Richards. Personal problems were the cause of the “substantial violation of the contract.”

Mike Richards

Two-way contracts

In the NHL, some skaters have two-way agreements. Due to this, if they perform in the NHL, they will receive one wage. But if they are transferred to the AHL, they will receive a smaller wage instead of complete. Here the AHL is the American Hockey League.

For example, A typical two-way agreement will be set up so that the player receives $700,000 for participating in the NHL. Also, they will get $70,000 for performing in the AHL. Thus, both conditions of this contract are assured and a player cannot terminate their agreement in any case.

Two-way contracts

Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that some skaters have contracts that indicate that even if they are not playing in the NHL, they will still receive a wage.

Not all skaters with two-way agreements are transferred to the AHL. A player with a complete NHL deal can be sent to the AHL by an NHL team. In this case, they will not buy out. Also, the entire NHL wage will be the league’s responsibility. 

The most prominent example of this is Wade Redden of the New York Mets. He spent four of his six-year playing little league team with the Hartford Wolf Pack. It was a deal of 39 million dollars. He received a $23 million wage for his minor-league work.

Conclusion: Are NHL Contracts Guaranteed?

After getting this piece of information you won’t ask are NHL contracts guaranteed. You must be known that all the agreements of the NHL are assured as they are strict in their regulations. Only in cases of violations, these contracts can be terminated. Also, this does not happen commonly.

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