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What are the key points in the new CBA signed in 2013?

Here’s a look at some preliminary details of the tentative NHL-NHLPA collective bargaining agreement. We’ve selected the details most relevant to’s numbers and estimates.

Full CBA text from NHLPA »

UPPER LIMIT (lower limit/midpoint/upper limit)

  • 2012-13: $44M/$52M/$60M *
  • 2013-14: $44M/$54.15M/$64.3M

The lower limit must be reached without performance bonuses.

* transition rules permit teams to spend up to $70.2M

LINK: Article by James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail »


During the ordinary course buyout periods in June 2013 and June 2014, teams will be permitted two compliance buyouts. Compliance buyouts follow the same formula as ordinary-course buyouts — either 1/3 or 2/3 of actual salary depending on age — but do not count against the cap. In 2013, the buyout period begins 48 hours after the Stanley Cup Final ends and concludes on July 4 at 5 p.m.

The NHL allowed teams to execute one of their two compliance buyout options prior to the 2012-13 season on players with cap hits of more than $3 million. Two teams exercised the accelerated compliance buyout option: the Montreal Canadiens on Scott Gomez and the New York Rangers on Wade Redden. The players received full pay and counted at their full cap hit for 2012-13, after which the compliance buyout payments kick in. NOTE: The $3 million minimum applied only to accelerated compliance buyouts and does not apply to normal compliance buyouts.

For one season following a compliance buyout, the player is prohibited from rejoining the team that bought him out.

According to the New York Post on June 26, the NHL notified teams that "re-signing of a player following a trade and a subsequent (compliance) buyout" would be deemed cap circumvention.

Per Transition Rule 53, a compliance buyout can only be executed on a contract entered into on or before Sept. 15, 2012.

LINK: CapGeek FAQ on how buyouts work »


  • 2012-13: $525,000
  • 2013-14: $550,000
  • 2014-15: $550,000
  • 2015-16: $575,000
  • 2016-17: $575,000
  • 2017-18: $650,000
  • 2018-19: $650,000
  • 2019-20: $700,000
  • 2020-21: $700,000
  • 2021-22: $750,000


Money paid to players outside of the NHL counts against the cap.

A one-way contract counts against the cap as follows:

cap hit – [ minimum salary + $375,000 ]

Example: If Player A with cap hit $6.5M plays in the minors in 2013-14, he counts as follows.

$6.5M – [ $550,000 + $375,000 ] = $5.575M

A two-way contract counts as follows:

minor-league salary – [ minimum  salary + $375,000 ]

Example: Player B’s two-way contract pays $3M/$1M in 2013-14 and counts as follows in the minors.

$1M – [ $550,000 + $375,000 ] = $75,000


Reentry waivers have been eliminated in the new CBA.


Long-term injured reserve remains unchanged in the new CBA.


The 35-plus rule remains unchanged in the new CBA.

LINK: CapGeek FAQ explaining the 35-plus rule »


The performance bonus cushion applies in every year of the CBA.


Group 3 unrestricted free agency remains unchanged and begins on July 1 each year. UFAs may meet and interview with potential new clubs from the day after the entry draft (June 25 at the latest) until June 30.


Maximum contract length is seven years, but extends to eight if a club is re-signing its own player. The eight-year re-signing option expires for UFAs with the opening of free agency on July 1.


Front-loaded contracts where the average of salary plus bonuses over the first half of the contract exceeds the cap hit, variability rules apply. Year-to-year variability is limited to 35 per cent of the first-year compensation. If a player earns $10M in Year 1, the contract cannot subsequently increase/decrease by more than $3.5M from year to year. Meanwhile, the lowest year’s compensation cannot be less than 50 per cent of the highest year’s compensation. If a player earns $10M in his highest year, he can never earn less than $5M any other year.

The old 100 per cent rule applies to any other multi-year contract.

LINK: CapGeek FAQ on the 100 per cent rule »


Teams receiving a “cap advantage” from long-term contracts — defined as seven years or more for contracts signed prior to the January 2013 CBA — will be penalized in the event the player retires or “defects” from the NHL before the contract expires. A team receives a “cap advantage” when the player’s actual salary exceeds his cap hit in a given year.

Following retirement/defection, the “advantage” will be “recaptured” and charged against the club’s cap in equal amounts each year until the contract expires. This penalty applies to any team that received a cap advantage from the contract — ie. a traded contract — except in the event that the trade occurred prior to the new CBA coming into place in January 2013.

[ Edit: June 2, 2013 ] Teams do not receive a credit for net negative cap benefit (where cap hit exceeds salary over the course of the contract prior to retirement). However, in calculating net “cap advantage,” teams do receive a credit for seasons in which cap hit exceeds salary.

Please note, contracts that fall under the "over-35" rule do not qualify for cap benefit recapture, the NHL has confirmed. In these cases, the team is charged with the player's full cap hit.

Also note, the 2013 CBA defines "Long-Term Contracts" in Section 50.5 (c) (ii) (A) (P. 265) as any contract entered into prior to the execution date of the agreement that has a term in excess of six years, meaning all contracts signed after the lockout are not subject to recapture penalties.

LINK: CapGeek Recapture Calculator »


When injuries or suspensions result in insufficient cap room and a shortage of skaters for more than one game, teams can — after the first game of such shortage — recall replacement players provided they have a cap hit less than or equal to the league’s minimum salary plus $100,000, ie. $625,000 in 2012-13.

MORE: CapGeek FAQ explaining how teams receive cap relief during roster emergencies »


Teams can retain a percentage of a contract’s remaining cap hit, salary and bonuses in trades. The following stipulations apply:

  • No more than 50 per cent of the salary/cap hit can be retained
  • Salary/cap hit cannot be retained on more than three contracts in one season
  • The aggregate cap hits retained cannot exceed 15 per cent of the upper limit
  • A contract can be traded only twice where salary/cap hit is retained

LINK: Article by James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail »