How do signing bonuses work?
A player's NHL salary for an individual season is the sum of a base salary, and, if applicable, a signing bonus. The player's annual NHL salaries are then used to calculate the player's cap hit or annual average (AAV). In other words, signing bonuses impact cap hit.
Signing bonus amounts have their own column on CapGeek.com's player contract history pages but are also included in the figures under the NHL salary column.
A signing bonus can be assigned to any individual season within a contract. They can be paid up front on July 1 prior to the league year but can also doled out according to a pre-determined payment schedule that is written into the contract.
Signing bonuses can affect buyout amounts depending on the language of the contract. Vincent Lecavalier's 2009-2020 contract, for example, specified "non-refundable" signing bonuses, meaning he received them in addition to his 2013 compliance buyout payments. Other contracts specify that the signing bonuses are contingent upon the player fulfilling the contract.