Do you think all hockey players are rich? Think again! The salary gap between players in the NHL and those in lower leagues can sometimes be astronomical.
“Many believe that professional-level players all have the same lifestyle as those you see in the NHL, but that’s not the case,” explains former Moncton Wildcats star goaltender Nicola Riopel.
“Even if many earn a good living, it is important to know that the players are paid over the duration of the season, therefore between six and nine months depending on the level and the league”, continues the one who is today co-founder of the player agency Propulsion.
Canada is the country with the most hockey players in the world with more than 620,000, according to the International Ice Hockey Federation (FIH). Of that number, only 295 Canadians are active in the National Hockey League (NHL).
While the salaries of NHL players are well documented, this is not necessarily the case for professionals in other leagues. How much does a professional hockey player earn outside of the NHL? Here’s how to find it.
American Hockey League
The American Hockey League (AHL) is considered the second professional tier in North America, with most teams affiliated with National League clubs. Players drafted into the NHL often begin their professional careers there for less.
Archival photo Martin Chevalier
The AHL minimum wage is currently $68,000 gross. This is the salary of a recruit. An AHL player’s first contract cannot exceed $97,000 for the first 3 years.
Star players on the circuit can earn between $200,000 and $400,000.
In the American League, players must pay for their own accommodation.
East Coast Hockey League
Next comes the third rung in the North American professional hockey pyramid. Here, things get awfully complicated.
A recruit receives a maximum of $770 gross per week, during the 26 weeks of the season. Luckily, teams take care of housing, internet and cable for their players.
“After taxes, you make about $1,000 every two weeks,” Riopel said. In your year, you therefore receive about $13,000… you better find yourself a summer job!”
On average, ECHL players make around $1000 a week and the highest paid can earn up to $1600 a week.
Contracts are not guaranteed, so players may be terminated without notice.
Players with children may experience some financial difficulties.
North American Hockey League
The North American Hockey League is a semi-professional circuit based in Quebec. Several former high-level players come to end their careers there and others still use it to attempt a final breakthrough towards the professional circuits.
In this league, players are paid per game. A rookie will make between $275 and $325 per game there, while a star player can earn up to $600.
The option often preferred by professional hockey players unable to make it to the NHL is Europe.
On the Old Continent, players are often well treated and receive very reasonable salaries. No apartment to pay, vehicle provided: the good life, what.
In the French first division, salaries vary between $40,000 and $63,000 net per year and expenses are covered.
In Austria, the average is around $78,000 net.
In Germany, salaries fluctuate between $125,000 and $160,000 net per year and star players can even earn up to $235,000 annually.
Then in the Continental Hockey League (KHL), salaries can be very high, even rivaling those of the NHL for some stars. In the majority of cases, players also have to deal with the family factor.
“Let’s not forget that, in most cases, spouses have to quit their jobs or leave their careers aside in order to be able to follow the players, explained Riopel, having himself gone through this ordeal with his spouse. current.”
The NHL, a world apart
All players inevitably dream of reaching the National Hockey League. For prestige, but also for money. In 2020-2021, the minimum salary for a player in the NHL is set at $935,000 and will rise to $1 million next year.
Calculating the salaries of all players in the league, an NHL member earns an average of $4. But the proportion of players reaching the highest level is very low.
It can be a long journey through the wilderness for a hockey player to make a decent living…but when he reaches the highest peaks, finances shouldn’t be an issue.