I have looked up a few currently inactive NHL players, but who played at least 30 or more career games in the NHL. I am familiar with the hockey term "duster" and I've heard it thrown around, but I don't quite get how this works:

If you play in any amount of games for any time in the NHL (even if you play less than 1 second of a game), aren't you signed on a guaranteed minimum NHL contract salary?

If so, why have I found some dozens of players stats online who show well under NHL minimum? Some players show no earnings at all (e.g., preseason games).

Others show earnings well below the minimum for playing in NHL games (e.g., $100,000 or such instead of the minimums at the time of playing which were much higher).

Does this minimum only count under certain contracts/conditions? Because I have heard some former NHL players whose earnings were not NHL minimum, yet they've had rocky NHL careers (e.g., up and down from NHL/AHL multiple times).

Could this be clarified? Just look at this if you don't believe me:


A few of those bottom of the list salaries are pretty surprising, if real.

  • Your question reads too broad as there could be many factors that can affect each player's salary.
    – user10632
    Aug 18, 2016 at 19:23
  • 1
    I suspect the minimum salary assumes a full playing season. A player that signs on at the end of the season does not earn a full season's salary.
    – BowlOfRed
    Aug 18, 2016 at 23:09

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure what that site defines a salary as, it looks like the salary is the amount a player is payed by a particular team within a season.

This means a player can be paid under league minimum if they are not on a team's roster for the full season. From personal experience, playing with professional players in the off season, players receive a pro-rated salary based upon their negotiated salary when they get called up.

For example, lets assume a player signs a two way contract between the NHL and AHL (American Hockey League). $1 million in the NHL and $100k in the AHL. Currently the average NHL salary is $2.4 million while AHL salary is just over $90k.

If this player spends 50% of the time in the NHL and 50% of their time in the AHL, their total gross salary would be $550k. $500k from their time in the NHL and $50k in the AHL. So while the player's salary may be listed as $500k from their NHL team, under the league minimum of $575k for this season, their contract was signed for much higher than the league minimum.

I think the main discrepancy here is how the site you reference classifies a player's salary. This information assumes a player has signed a two-way contract covering an agreed upon salary in both leagues.

Also, I'm almost certain a player's salary is paid and dependent upon the season's beginning and end dates. There's no payment for the 'off-season,' nor a salary for post season play. Although there may be some sort of bonus pay. This means a player's salary is typically pro-rated depending on the season. So a $100k salary divided up by a hypothetical 100 day season would constitute $1k paid to a player per day they are in that league.

  • The salary is dependent on time spent with each club so this would be correct. Playoff compensation is different in that it comes from the league and is dispersed to each team according to playoff run and position entering the playoffs. Here is an article explaining the breakdown. link
    – Parker McA
    Apr 20, 2017 at 17:19

That's not a correct interpretation. If someone plays at all in the NHL, they get paid at the minimum RATE, but there are a lot of "two-way" contracts and movement back and forth between the minors and the NHL. The pay gets pro-rated according to the amount of time spent.

If teams were on the hook for the entire salary, they'd be much, much less willing to move player up and then back down, and this would hamper the development of talent.

Also, if someone who was a veteran to the point of not being able to be moved down, but was not on a team for a while, he'd get paid at a pro-rated rate for the amount of season he plays. I think, after a certain percentage of the season played, they're on the hook for the rest of the amount, but I'm not sure about that.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.