The most recent CBA introduced retained salary transactions—trades where a team trade a player but agree to pay a percentage of his salary. This is ideal when a team wants a player but will have trouble fitting him in under the cap. The ability to retain salary comes with restrictions, however, so let’s briefly look at how retained salary transactions work before looking at which players are subject to them.
- A team can retain up to 50% of a player’s average salary (including bonuses);
- The retained salary amount is uniform over the full length of the player’s contract;
- A team can retain up to three players’ salary at one time;
- A team cannot have more than 15% of the salary cap devoted to retained salary;
- A team cannot retain salary on a player who is already subject to two current retained salary transactions;
- If a team acquires a player with retained salary, then trades him while also retaining salary, the second retained salary agreement cannot modify the initial retained salary agreement;
- Teams cannot reacquire a player within a year of trading him if it agreed to retain salary in the initial transaction (unless the player’s contract terminated);
- Retained salary obligations apply to any cap advantage recapture amounts; and
- Retained salary obligations still apply if a player is bought out or loaned to an AHL club. The NHL team would pay a portion of the player’s AHL salary (if applicable).
Right now eight NHL players play on contracts with retained salaries. Vincent Lecavalier would have had the most retained salary with $2.25MM, and both Jannik Hansen and Patrick Maroon tie for the least with $500K. Below is the full list of players with retained salary contracts:
F Phil Kessel
The Toronto Maple Leafs retained 15% of Kessel’s salary, or $1.2MM, when they traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins on July 1, 2015. Kessel is now a two-time Stanley Cup champion with five more years left on his deal.
F Vincent Lecavalier
The Philadelphia Flyers retained 50% of Lecavalier’s salary, totalling $2.25MM a year, in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings on January 6, 2016. Luckily for the Flyers, Lecavalier retired after the 2015-16 season forfeiting the last two years of his contract. The original deal expires in the summer for 2018.
F Patrick Maroon
The Anaheim Ducks retained 25% of Maroon’s salary, totalling $500K a year, in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers on February 29, 2016. Maroon is in the last year of his current deal.
F Cody McLeod
The Colorado Avalanche retained 40% of McLeod’s salary, totalling $533K a year, in a trade with the Nashville Predators on January 13, 2017. McLeod is also in the final year of his deal.
G Eddie Lack
The Carolina Hurricanes retained the maximum 50% of Lack’s salary, totalling $1.375MM, in a trade with the Calgary Flames on June 29, 2017. Lack is in the final year of his two-year deal.
G Alexei Emelin
The Vegas Golden Knights retained 26.83% of Emelin’s salary, totalling $1.1MM in a trade with the Nashville Predators on July 1, 2017. The Golden Knights selected Emelin in the NHL expansion draft this summer from the Montreal Canadiens. Emelin is in the final year of his four-year contract.