The NHL and NHLPA continue to move forward with their Return to Play Protocol with completion of an MOU that was approved by the League and the NHLPA representatives. The Return to Play plan – which includes a CBA extension through the 2025/2026 season – has now moved on to the voting process.
The voting process sees every player given the opportunity to vote on the issue. A simple majority is all that is required for the item to pass. The vote is expected to be completed by this Friday.
There has been quite a bit of information coming out in the last few days with regards to the many items included in the NHL’s MOU. Included but not limited to this are changes to the CBA, player contracts, the Free Agent Period, Scheduling, and what the Playoff rounds will look like.
NHL Critical Dates
All dates are best estimates at this time and subject to change.
July 13 – Training camps scheduled to open
July 24 – Teams slated to arrive in their hub cities (Toronto and Edmonton)
July 25 – Exhibition games
July 30 – Start of qualification rounds
August 9 – 1st round of Playoffs begin
August 10 – Draft Lottery Sweepstakes
August 23 – 2nd round of Playoffs begin
September 6 – Conference Finals begin
September 20 – Stanley Cup Finals begin
October 2 – Last possible game of Stanley Cup finals. Stanley Cup awarded
October 6- NHL Draft
Later of October 9 or 7 days after Stanley Cup final – Free Agency opens
November 17 – Training camps open for 2020/2021 season
December 1 -2020/2021 Regular season opens
Player Opt out
As part of the Return to Play package, any player can choose to opt-out for any reason without penalty or discipline. Previous talk had players opting out being ineligible for a playoff share and not receiving their final quarterly pension credit for the season if it was for anything other than an underlying medical condition.
#NHL/#NHLPA MOU states that if players opting-out on a league-wide or club-wide basis “materially impacts the integrity” of the Return To Play plan, then the two sides may meet to determine whether to continue with the restart.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 8, 2020
The playoff bonus pool for this seasons playoffs will be $32 million. This is double the previous seasons amount of $16 million. The change is reflective of the increased number of teams in this years Playoffs.
Players on a team that loses in the best of five qualifying round will receive a share of $20,000 and players will see bonuses increase each round. Players on the Stanley Cup winning team will receive a share worth $240,000.
The upper limit of the salary cap will remain at $81.5 million for the 2020-2021 season and will remain there until HRR (Hockey Related Revenues) returns to $4.8 billion. The $4.8 billion figure is based on the revenues project for the current season before the onset of the pandemic.
When HRR does reach $4.8 billion mark, the upper limit will be calculated using actual HRR from the previous two seasons.
Very interesting: Clubs that have a Performance Bonus overage from this year will have the option to evenly distribute it between 2020-21 and 2021-22 (50% each season).— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 9, 2020
It has been reported that the NHL will allow players to participate in the 2022 Olympics in Beijing and the 2026 Olympics in Milan pending agreement with the IOC.
20% for 2020-2021
14-18% for 2021-2022
10% for 2022-2023
6% for the remaining 3 seasons of the deal
Included in the deal is a player salary deferral. This will see the players defer 10% of salary and signing bonuses for the 2020-2021 season. That money will be paid back to the players over three equal installments in the final 3 seasons of the CBA.
There has been a change to no-trade/no-move clauses. Previously when a player with a clause waived the clause for a trade they were deemed to have foregone the protection of their clause going forward. Under the new agreement, all no-trade clauses will travel with the player in a trade even if the clause has yet to kick in.
Front Loaded Deals Modified
Long term, front loaded deals that are at least 6 years in length and worth at least 7.5% of the salary cap will have their variablility between highest and lowest year cut from 50% to 35%.
NHL Minimum Salary
The new NHL minimum salary will be $700K for the 2020/2021 season bumping up to $750K in the 2021/2022, 2022/2023 seasons. The final three seasons of the CBA will see an increase to $775K.
That process (arbitration process?) will obviously be attached to conditions in trades that may have been affected by COVID-19 pause and aren’t resolved in the MOU.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 9, 2020
Entry Level Salary
Entry-level salaries will receive a boost to the maximum limit over the course of the new CBA as well as a bump on individual Schedule ‘A’ bonuses. Schedule ‘A’ bonuses will increase from a maximum of $850K currently to $1 million under the new agreement.
$950K – 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 seasons
$975K – 2023/2024 and 2024/2025 seasons
$1 million in the 2025/2026 season
The opening of the free agency period is currently slated for the later of October 9th or 7 days after the Stanley Cup has been awarded. The free agent interview period has been eliminated in the new CBA.
With the NHL’s ridiculous love of back to back games, there will be an effort to minimize travel and have those games played in the same city wherever possible. An example given by TSN’s Frank Seravalli is LAK-ANA-SJS rather than LAK-SJS-ANA.
Next pay date: In event 2020-21 #NHL season starts after Nov. 15, which is very likely, then players with 20-21 contract will be paid 8.1% of salary by Oct. 31.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 8, 2020
Players will have gone from April 1 to Oct. 31 between paycheques.