Rookies carry some baggage when they arrive in the NHL, and not just because they're rookies and hence have to carry their teammates' bags. There are expectations for success; the promise of a bright future; and, of course, the millions of dollars built into their contracts that they'll never see, but that will allow their cap floor-challenged teams to reach the mandatory minimum for spending in this financial system.
[Related: What will NHL refuse to concede to union in lockout stalemate? ]
Pop quiz, hot shot: How many rookies scored over 20 goals last season? That would be two: Matt Read (24) and Gabriel Landeskog (22).
How many had 35 assists? That would be one: Adam Henrique (35).
How many defensemen hit the 40-point mark? That would be zero.
These are all performance clause triggers in an NHL Entry Level Contract, giving young players bonus money on top of their base salary. Granted, many players will likely clear their hurdles in the next two years of their ELC deals; but as rookies, the most they'll get out of the bonus money is watching their team use it to reach the cap floor.
The New York Islanders' Nino Niederreiter, for example, had a base salary of $900,000 last season and bonuses that would have paid him $1.925 million according to Cap Geek. Alas, he played 55 games with the Islanders and scored a single goal. He didn't earn his bonus money, but the Islanders had his $2.795 million cap hit apply to their payroll.
Among the many issues being debated in this lockout: The salary cap floor and the "creative accounting" we've seen by teams to either get under the cap or to reach the floor. Things like … oh, you know … counting against the cap bonus money that a young player will never unlock, like it's an unattainable achievement on a video game.
[Also: Martin Brodeur favors short season, like when he won Cup in '94-95 ]
David Shoalts of the Globe & Mail believes that the practice could come to an end in the next CBA … and that there are some dire implications for AHL players in the fallout.
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