Download 2005 CBA (in PDF format)

Collective Bargaining Agreement FAQs

See Also:
NHL ratifies CBA Bettman speech highlights
What's new? NHL "relaunch" FAQs
NHL rules changes Shootout to settle ties
NHLers to play in Olympics Drug testing policy
Schedule format Critical dates
Entry Draft info Lottery results
NHL press conference, July 22: 300K | 56K | Audio
NHL Draft Lottery: 300K | 56K | Audio
NHLPA press conference, July 21: 300K | 56K | Audio


What is the length of the new CBA?

The CBA is six years in duration (through the 2010-11 season) with the NHLPA having the option to re-open the agreement after Year Four (after the 2008-09 season). The NHLPA also has the option of extending the CBA for an additional year at the end of the term.


What will be the players' share of League-wide revenues?

The players' share will be 54% to the extent League revenues in any year are below $2.2 billion; 55% when League revenues are between $2.2 billion and $2.4 billion; 56% when League revenues are between $2.4 billion and $2.7 billion, and 57% when League revenues in any year exceed $2.7 billion.


What will be the range of Club payrolls?

The payroll range in Year One (2005-06) of the CBA will be $21.5 million (U.S.) at the lower limit and $39 million (U.S.) at the upper limit. A Club's payroll will include all salaries, signing bonuses and performance bonuses paid to players. Except in the case of bona fide long-term injury (injuries that sideline a player for a minimum of 24 days and 10 games) to one or more of a club's players, Club payrolls will never be permitted to be below the minimum or in excess of the maximum. Clubs at or near the upper limit that have players who incur a bona fide long-term injury will be entitled to replace up to the full value of the injured player's NHL salary (even if such salary would result in the club's team salary exceeding the upper limit). The "replacement salary" will not count against the club's upper limit but will count against the League-wide players' share. Upon return of the injured player, the team must come into immediate compliance with the requirements of the payroll range.


Is there a maximum an individual player may earn?

Yes. No player may be eligible to contract for or receive in excess of 20% of the Club's upper limit in total annual compensation (NHL salary plus signing, roster, reporting and all performance bonuses). In 2005-06, no player will be permitted to contract for total compensation in excess of $7.8 million in any year of his contract.


What is the new minimum NHL player salary?

The minimum NHL player salary in 2005-06 and 2006-07 will be $450,000; $475,000 in 2007-08 and 2008-09; $500,000 in 2009-10 and 2010-11, and $525,000 in 2011-12 (to the extent the CBA is extended by the Union).

What happens with players who have contracts for 2005-06 for less than the minimum salary?

The player's contract may be bought out. If the contract is not bought out, his salary must be increased to the League minimum.


What players may earn in performance bonuses?

Performance bonuses will only be permissible for the following types of players: (1) players on entry-level contracts; (2) players signing one-year contracts after returning from long-term injuries (players with 400 or more games who spent 100 or more days on injured reserve in the last year of their most recent contract); and senior veteran players who sign a one-year contract after the age of 35.


What is the status of existing player contracts?

Every year of every existing NHL player contract (plus signing, roster and reporting bonuses, performance bonuses, marketing fees and any and all other payments due under existing contracts) will be reduced by 24 percent.

What is the status of 2004-05 player contracts?

All contracts for the 2004-05 season will be deemed eliminated


Will Clubs have an opportunity to make off-season adjustments to their rosters to come into compliance with the new CBA rules?

Yes. Clubs will have a one-time opportunity, during a six-day period, to exercise buy-outs of existing player contracts. Amounts paid to players pursuant to these compliance buy-outs will not be counted against a club's upper limit or the League-wide players' share. Clubs that choose to exercise compliance buy-outs must pay the buy-out amount over the remaining term of the contract.


Will enhanced revenue sharing be part of the new CBA?

Yes. The League has committed to enhanced revenue sharing in an amount that is necessary to allow all Clubs the ability to afford competitive payrolls within the payroll range.

What Clubs will be eligible for revenue-sharing subsidies?

All Clubs that: (1) are ranked in the bottom half (bottom 15) in League revenues, and (2) operate in markets with a Demographic Market Area of 2.5 million or fewer TV households.


Will NHL players compete in the 2006 Olympics at Turin, Italy?

Yes. The NHL and NHLPA have agreed to NHL player participation in both the 2006 (Turin) and 2010 (Vancouver) Winter Olympics, subject to negotiation of mutually acceptable terms with the International Ice Hockey Federation.

See more detail on Olympic participation.


How will Free Agency work?

Unrestricted Free Agency - For the 2005-06 season, a player age 31 with four accrued seasons will be an unrestricted free agent; in 2006-07, a player age 29 with four accrued seasons or with eight accrued seasons; in 2007-08, a player age 28 with four accrued seasons or with seven accrued seasons; beginning in 2008-09 and for the duration of the agreement, a player age 27 with four accrued seasons or with seven accrued seasons will be an unrestricted free agent. For purposes of qualifying for unrestricted free agency, the 2004-05 cancelled season will be counted as a year of accrued service.

What happens to a player who was 30 years old and a restricted free agent at the time the old CBA expired, but who turned 31 on or before June 30, 2005?

Provided the player has four-or-more accrued seasons, he will become an unrestricted free agent on August 1, 2005.

Restricted Free Agency - will continue to operate similarly to how it has operated under the expired CBA.


What is the latest date players can sign contracts?

Under the expired CBA, there was no signing deadline applicable to player contracts. Under the new CBA, Restricted Free Agents who do not sign contracts by December 1 of a given year will be ineligible to play in the League for the balance of that season.

See more detail on critical dates.


How much can Entry Level players make?

Entry Level players will be subject to a maximum annual salary (plus signing and games played bonuses) of $850,000 for 2005 and 2006 draftees; $875,000 for 2007 and 2008 draftees; $900,000 for 2009 and 2010; and $925,000 for 2011 draftees.

The maximum combined signing bonus will be limited to 10% of the player's maximum annual compensation in any year.

Entry Level players may negotiate for performance bonuses up to a maximum of $850,000 in individual "Schedule A" bonuses per year (maximum of $212,500 per bonus). A player may also be eligible to earn individual "B" bonuses for League-wide excellence, which will, as a general matter, be paid by the League. In addition, a player will be eligible to negotiate with his club "excess" individual "B" bonuses, subject to a maximum aggregate of $2 million in any year.

How long will a player be in the Entry Level system?

Players who sign their first contract at age 18-21 are required to sign three-year Entry Level contracts; players age 22-23 will be required to sign two-year deals; and players age 24 will be required to sign a one-year Entry Level contract.

How much can unsigned players from the 2003 and 2004 Entry Drafts contract for?

Clubs may sign 2004 draftees to a maximum salary of $984,200 and 2003 draftees to a maximum salary of $942,400. These salaries are based on a 24% rollback to the maximum salary under the previous CBA for the players' respective draft years. Additionally, draftees from prior years may negotiate for a signing bonus not to exceed 30% of his maximum annual compensation. Performance bonuses may be negotiated as per new CBA rules.


How many rounds in the Entry Draft?

The Entry Draft will be reduced from nine rounds to seven rounds.

Will Compensatory draft picks still exist?

Yes. Clubs that lost a Group 3 free agent to another club between July 1 and September 15, 2004 will be eligible to receive a compensatory draft choice in the 2005 Entry Draft slotted on the same basis as under the expired CBA. Going forward, clubs will no longer receive compensatory draft choices for the loss of unrestricted free agents but will receive such choices for the loss of unsigned first-round draft picks.

Who is eligible for selection in the Entry Draft?

Draft eligibility rules will remain unchanged from the expired CBA (all players must be age 18 by September 15 in the year in which the Draft is held).

Will players still have to opt-in to Draft?

No. The Draft "opt-in" procedure has been eliminated.


Who will be eligible for Salary Arbitration?

As a general matter, players will be eligible for salary arbitration after four years in the League instead of three. For the first time, Clubs also will have the right to elect salary arbitration with respect to two categories of players. For players who are earning more than $1.5 million in their prior year, Clubs will have the right to elect salary arbitration in lieu of making a Qualifying Offer. Clubs also will have the right to elect salary arbitration with respect to other Group 2 players who chose not to take the Club to arbitration.


How will qualifying offers work?

Players earning $660,000 or less will be entitled to qualifying offers (QO) at 110% of their prior year's salary; players earning more than $660,000 and up to $1 million will be entitled to QOs at 105% of prior year's salary; players earning more than $1 million will be entitled to QO at 100% of their prior year's salary.


Will Clubs be able to renegotiate contracts with players?

No. Player contracts will not be renegotiated (upward or downward) during their term. Extensions may be negotiated but only in the final year of the contract and only if such extension is for an amount that can be accommodated in a Club's upper limit for the current year or as computed for future years.


What will the regular-season schedule look like?

The length of the regular season will be a minimum of 184 days, with each club playing at least one game in the first three days and last three days of the regular season. The length of the regular-season schedule will remain at 82 games.

See more detail on the schedule format.


How long will training camp be?

For veteran players (50 games or more in the previous season), training camp will not exceed 20 days. For all other players, training camp will be not more than 27 days. (For the 2005-06 season only, the duration of training camp will be extended to 23 days for veteran players and not more than 30 days for all other players.)

What is the maximum number of pre-season games that may be scheduled for any team?

The maximum number of pre-season games remains at nine.


What joint committees and commitments have been established?

The parties have agreed to the establishment of a joint Owner-Player Competition Committee to discuss and make recommendations on matters affecting the game and the way the game is played.

The parties have agreed to a joint Broadcasting/Marketing Committee to discuss League broadcast and marketing policies and initiatives.

The parties have agreed to a joint Emergency Assistance Fund Administration Committee to oversee the use of funds for retired players.


Will there continue to be a Waiver Draft?

The CBA does not provide for the continuation of the Waiver Draft.


Has the date of the trading deadline been moved?

Yes. The trade deadline will be moved from the 26th day to the 40th day immediately preceding the final day of the regular season.


Does the CBA address the use of Performance Enhancing Substances?

Yes. Per the agreement, every NHL player will be subject to up to two "no-notice" tests every year, with at least one such test to be conducted on a team-wide basis.

Positive tests for performance-enhancing substances will result in a mandatory discipline as follows:

For the first positive test, a 20-game suspension without pay and a mandatory referral to the League's Substance Abuse/Behavioral Health Program for evaluation, education and possible treatment.

For the second positive test, a 60-game suspension without pay.

For the third positive test, a minimum two-year suspension. This suspension will be considered "permanent," although a player so suspended may apply for reinstatement after two years.

A joint NHL/NHLPA Committee on performance enhancing substances also will agree on a Prohibited Substances List. The list will include performance-enhancing substances on the list maintained by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for both in-competition and out-of-competition testing.

See more detail on the drug-testing policy.


How does escrow work?

The determination of the percentage withhold of player salary for purposes of funding the player salary escrow will be determined at four separate points during the season. The percentage withhold will be adjusted as necessary to reflect overall League-wide payroll at the time of the various evaluation points, with the intention being to ensure that sufficient monies will be available at the end of the League Year to repay the League in the event of any overpay on the League-wide Players' Share.


Is there a luxury tax in the new CBA?



How long does a Club have to exercise a compliance buyout?

There will be a six-day period commencing on July 23, 2005 and ending at 5:00 p.m. ET on July 29, 2005 during which Clubs may terminate and buy out player contracts.

Can such a player, who is bought out pursuant to this procedure, be re-signed by the Club that bought him out?

A player that has been bought out during the compliance buy-out period cannot rejoin his old Club during the 2005-06 season.

When does the period for free agency begin?

The free agency period will begin on August 1, 2005.

See more detail on the critical dates.



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