11 NHL teams carry extra salary-cap hit into next season

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With a salary cap that has risen just $2 million total over the past five seasons, NHL teams continue to have very limited cap space. 

This led to a record 22 teams (69 percent) utilizing Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) in 2023-24 to either permanently or temporarily exceed the cap. This record number of teams using LTIR surpassed the previous record of 19 teams, set last season. By using LTIR, just under half of the League’s 32 teams finished the regular season with a final team cap hit over the maximum $83.5 million.

There are negative consequences of utilizing LTIR, including that by finishing over the salary cap, all the performance bonuses players earn will be a cap charge in the following season.

Under the salary cap rules outlined in the CBA, there are three types of players are eligible to have performance bonuses in their contracts:

  1. Players on their Entry Level Contracts
  2. Players that are 35 or older and sign a one-year contract
  3. Veteran Players that have missed considerable time due to injury and sign a one-year contract

At the conclusion of the season, the performance bonuses earned by players are added to their team’s final season cap hit, and if the resulting total exceeds the cap ($83.5 million in 2023-24), the excess is a cap hit for the following season as a performance bonus carryover overage cap charge. 

For the 2024-25 season, at least 11 teams (and possibly a 12th) will incur a bonus overage cap charge.  This is actually less than the past two seasons: 2023-24 had a record 15 teams charged an overage and 2022-23 had 14 teams.

Here’s a look at the 11 teams that will have an overage for the 2024-25 season.

TeamBonus Overage CarryoverAdditional Potential Bonus/Overage
Edmonton Oilers$3,450,000 +$100K to Corey Perry playoff bonuses
Dallas Stars$2,595,407  
Washington Capitals$2,252,500  
Los Angeles Kings$1,850,000  
New Jersey Devils$1,538,897  
Montreal Canadiens$997,500  
Ottawa Senators$850,000  
New York Rangers$512,500 + $25K to Jonathan Quick for Stanley Cup Win
Minnesota Wild$425,000 +212.5K to Marco Rossi for “All Rookie” team
Philadelphia Flyers$245,000  
Boston Bruins$50,000 +$200K to Milan Lucic for Stanley Cup Win
Florida Panthers$                          –   + $500K to Kyle Okposo for Stanley Cup Win

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Oilers have highest performance bonus overage in NHL this season

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Edmonton Oilers
Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Edmonton Oilers will have the highest overage charged next season with $3.45 million in bonus overages. This could increase by another $100K: $50K if they win Round 2 and Perry plays either 50 percent of the games in Round 2 or 50 percent of the games in Round 1 and Round 2 combined, and $50K if they win Round 3 and Perry plays either 50 percent of Round 3 games or 50 percent of the games in Rounds 1 through 3.  

Perry has already earned $225K in bonuses for playing 10 regular-season games with the Oilers. Edmonton’s largest bonus comes from Connor Brown earning $3.225 million for playing 10 games, a contract structure that was designed to beat the competition for the free agent and carry just a $775K salary cap hit this season. Brown was eligible for performance bonuses due to the injury he suffered last season. This large team bonus overage is actually less than the $4.5 million the Boston Bruins faced this season. 

The Dallas Stars overage is made up of the $2 million Joe Pavelski earned for playing 20 games, and defenseman Thomas Harley earned all of the $637.5K potential “A” bonuses in his contract. Dallas frequently sent Logan Stankoven down to the AHL on off-days during the last portion of the season, which built up some end of year cap space. Despite incurring $2,637,500 in bonuses, due to having some end of year cap space, Dallas’ overage is $2,595,407

Washington spent the year in LTIR due to Nicklas Backstrom’s injury. Similar to Edmonton, they landed a free agent by offering easily attainable performance bonuses; Max Pacioretty earned a $2 million bonus for playing 20 games coming off a torn Achilles last season. With Maxim Lapierre narrowly earning $212.5K in “A” bonuses for plus/minus, and a games played bonus for Aliaksei Protas, Washington will have $2,252,500 of next year’s cap lost due to overage.

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The breakout season for Los Angeles Kings forward Quinton Byfield culminated with him scoring a goal and an assist in Game 82, earning him $425K in additional bonuses for goals and assists. Added to the bonuses he earned for time on ice and plus/minus, Byfield took home $850K in “A” bonuses. Cam Talbot also had a contract with easily attainable bonuses, $1 million for playing 10 games. 

The New Jersey Devils spent the season hovering around the $83.5M cap, despite having Tomas Nosek and Dougie Hamilton on LTIR. Luke Hughes maxed out the $925K in potential “A” bonuses in his contract, Simon Nemec earned “A” bonuses for time on ice and blocked shots, and Dawson Mercer earned “A” bonuses for goals and ice time. Interestingly, Mercer’s contract called for a reduced time on ice bonus amount if the Devils missed the playoffs, which they did. With $1.74 million in bonuses earned, the $200K New Jersey finished below the cap reduced the overage to $1.54 million.

Montreal’s bonus overage increased by $250K when 2023 first overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky scored his 20th goal in Game 82 and the forward picked up more of his “A” bonuses. Justin Barron and Kaiden Guhle each earned time on ice “A” bonuses, while Jayden Struble maxed out his $57.5K games played bonus, and Sean Monahan hit a $15K games played bonus prior to being traded to the Winnipeg Jets.

For the first time in memory, the Ottawa Senators actually finished over the cap as they used LTIR with Josh Norris.  Jake Sanderson hit $850K in “A” bonuses. 

The New York Rangers utilized LTIR and finished over the cap, leading to their bonuses earned resulting in an overage.  Braden Schneider earned a $212.5K “A” bonus for blocked shots, while Blake Wheeler earned $300K for playing in 30 games prior to injury.  Jonathan Quick narrowly missed out on bonuses for wins and save percentage, but he can still earn $25K if the Rangers win the Stanley Cup. Will Cuylle was set to earn an $82.5K bonus if he played in 82 games, but fell short after he was scratched in one game. 

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The Minnesota Wild finished over the cap with Jared Spurgeon on LTIR, and will have an overage due to Rossi hitting “A” bonuses for goals and total ice time. This will increase by another $212.5K if he’s named to an All-Rookie Team at the end of the year.

The Philadelphia Flyers dipped into LTIR during the season, leading to them finishing over the cap.  As a result, the “A” bonus Bobby Brink hit for plus/minus and the games played bonus Samuel Ersson earned will result in a $245K bonus overage.

Despite not earning his games played bonus this year, Milan Lucic earned a $50K bonus for the Boston Bruins making the playoffs. He’ll earn another $200K if they win the Stanley Cup. After $4.5 million in overages Boston faced this year, they’ll be gaining some much needed cap space next season. 

After being acquired before the NHL trade deadline, the Florida Panthers will pay a $500K bonus to Kyle Okposo if they win the Stanley Cup, which will result in an overage. 

Seven teams actually finished over the cap but did not pay out any bonuses: Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, and Vegas Golden Knights.  This will increase to eight if Florida does not win the Cup.  

While the cap is expected to increase by $4.175M next season, at least 11 teams will have part of that eaten up by bonus overages from this past season.

It’s the price of doing business in the NHL these days.

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