Breaking down each NHL team’s committed salary for 2020-21

The Montreal Canadiens made big headlines this week when they essentially traded one of their 2020 third round picks to the St. Louis Blues for goaltender Jake Allen (the teams also swapped seventh round picks).

The Canadiens were the 24th seed in the NHL at the pause, and because of the expanded postseason rules were given the chance to earn a playoff spot. They beat the powerhouse Pittsburgh Penguins, advanced to Round 1, and pushed the top seeded Philadelphia Flyers to six games.

The number one reason for the Canadiens making so much noise in this year’s postseason was the play of Carey Price. Once regarded as the best goaltender in the world, he has had his fair share of ups and downs the past few years.

However, Price is still an elite talent and without a doubt one of the best goalies in the game. He was a difference maker every single night, and the term thrown around a lot was “vintage Carey Price”.

The 82 game NHL season is long. It’s not easy to play at the highest of levels for 82 consecutive games, and then do it again for however many playoff games your team is lucky enough to have. Because of the extended break due to the pandemic, Price was able to recover, both physically and mentally, and come back at the top of his game.

That seemed to be the idea behind why the Canadiens traded for Allen, but at the same time, it created one of the most skewed rosters in terms of salary allocation in the NHL.

An NHL roster is generally composed of two goaltenders, seven defensemen, and 14 forwards. Ratioed, that works out to 61% forwards, 30% defensemen, and 9% goalies. You’d expect salary allocation to follow a similar structure between teams, within certain limits of course. The Canadiens have blown that wide open. With almost $15M committed to goaltenders next season, 23% of all their current allocated money is committed to goalies.

I broke down the rosters of every team using data from CapFriendly to see how teams are spending their money for the 2020-21 season.

A few disclaimers before we dig into the data:

  1. Lots of teams do not have full rosters yet. There are many, many pending UFAs, including a ton of goalies, so there are quite a few teams with significantly lower values in this area than will be the case on opening night.
  2. I didn’t consider looking at LTIR. Players like Marian Hossa, for example, are still on the roster, but will not play next season due to career ending injuries. Hossa’s “cap hit” is still counted in this data.
  3. This will be updated periodically as teams fill out their rosters. Keep checking in for a more accurate breakdown as the weeks go by.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Raw Dollars

I broke down the salary distribution into four categories. Forwards, defense, goalies, and dead money. Dead money includes cap hits from buyouts, contract terminations, retained salary transactions, cap recapture penalties, etc.

TeamForwardsDefenseGoaliesDead Money
ANA$ 43,549,443.00$ 22,005,556.00$ 6,400,000.00$ 6,625,000.00
ARI$ 42,577,500.00$ 28,662,500.00$ 8,750,000.00$ 0
BOS$ 42,858,091.00$ 12,350,000.00$ 9,250,000.00$ 1,500,000.00
BUF$ 29,500,000.00$ 13,975,000.00$ 2,750,000.00$ 791,667.00
CAR$ 39,117,333.00$ 24,375,000.00$ 6,525,000.00$ 2,333,333.00
CBJ$ 42,097,500.00$ 26,150,000.00$ 6,800,000.00$ 1,250,000.00
CGY$ 42,028,333.00$ 17,144,166.00$ 2,750,000.00$ 2,666,667.00
CHI$ 45,944,166.00$ 27,308,462.00$ 0$ 0
COL$ 37,671,429.00$ 16,130,833.00$ 5,333,333.00$ 0
DAL$ 40,500,000.00$ 17,094,166.00$ 4,916,666.00$ 450,000.00
DET$ 33,283,333.00$ 8,875,000.00$ 3,000,000.00$ 1,666,667.00
EDM$ 43,309,166.00$ 18,783,666.00$ 4,500,000.00$ 4,583,333.00
FLA$ 20,700,000.00$ 24,998,333.00$ 10,850,000.00$ 3,987,955.00
LAK$ 30,725,227.00$ 13,500,000.00$ 6,658,333.00$ 11,012,500.00
MIN$ 31,950,961.00$ 28,230,128.00$ 5,118,333.00$ 0
MTL$ 28,559,999.00$ 23,332,143.00$ 15,600,000.00$ 0
NJD$ 28,938,333.00$ 18,399,999.00$ 6,000,000.00$ 1,916,667.00
NSH$ 44,707,143.00$ 21,025,667.00$ 6,500,000.00$ 0
NYI$ 48,436,666.00$ 17,944,167.00$ 7,000,000.00$ 0
NYR$ 31,213,689.00$ 19,900,000.00$ 9,425,000.00$ 7,494,444.00
OTT$ 22,350,000.00$ 14,900,000.00$ 3,300,000.00$ 1,354,167.00
PHI$ 48,326,190.00$ 20,950,000.00$ 730,833.00$ 2,516,667.00
PIT$ 51,050,000.00$ 21,103,508.00$ 175,000.00$ 0
SJS$ 31,943,333.00$ 29,675,000.00$ 5,750,000.00$ 0
STL$ 52,302,499.00$ 18,400,000.00$ 4,400,000.00$ 0
TBL$ 49,041,666.00$ 16,325,000.00$ 10,800,000.00$ 0
TOR$ 50,889,366.00$ 14,969,167.00$ 6,650,000.00$ 1,200,000.00
VAN$ 43,466,666.00$ 15,841,667.00$ 1,050,000.00$ 4,068,545.00
VGK$ 47,550,000.00$ 20,075,000.00$ 7,000,000.00$ 500,000.00
WPG$ 48,881,189.00$ 10,875,000.00$ 6,166,666.00$ 0
WSH$ 52,055,128.00$ 18,100,000.00$ 950,000.00$ 0

2020-21 rosters are broken down very differently between teams. So far, average spends per position are approximately $40M for forwards, $20M for defense, $5.5M on goalies, and $1.8M in dead money.

The Blues have the most money committed to forwards so far at just over $53M. They’re followed by the Capitals, Penguins, Maple Leafs, all of which have over $50M committed to forwards, and the Lightning who have a little over $49M to round out the top five.

The Panthers actually have the least amount of money committed to forwards next season at $20.7M. This is due to four pending UFAs, two of which are big money makers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov. The Senators, Canadiens, Devils, and Sabres round out the bottom five.

Looking at defense, it’s no surprise the Sharks have the most committed to defense next season at just under $30M. Their blueline is headlined by a huge top three in Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The Coyotes, Wild, Blackhawks, and Blue Jackets round out the top five.

The Red Wings have the least committed to defense at under $9M. Their followed by the Jets, Bruins, Kings, and Sabres. The Bruins are an interesting team here as they have to re-sign Torey Krug this offseason who will not be cheap.

The Panthers, Lightning, Rangers, and Bruins round out the top five in terms of money committed to goaltending, but all fall short of the league leading Canadiens. All five of these teams have one very expensive goalie in Price, Sergei Bobrovsky, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Henrik Lundqvist, and Tuukka Rask respectively.

The bottom five are led by the Blackhawks who do not have a goalie on their current roster signed for next season. The only player on a contract that is not waiver exempt is Colin Delia with a cap hit of $1M. Following them are Penguins, Flyers, Capitals, and Canucks. All five of these teams will likely have a drastically different tandem next season with the exception of the Flyers who will have Carter Hart on his entry-level contract once again.

Finally, the Kings lead the league by a wide margin in dead money. The main components are the Dion Phaneuf buyout which will cost them over $4M,the Ilya Kovalchuk termination which will cost a cool $6.25M, and the Mike Richards termination which adds $700k. Add it all up and the Kings total over $11M in dead money next season.

Following them are the Rangers (mostly from the Kevin Shattenkirk buyout), Ducks (Corey Perry buyout), Oilers (Benoit Pouliot and Andrej Sekera buyouts), and Canucks (mostly Roberto Luongo‘s cap recapture). There are 13 teams who do not have any dead money next season.

Raw dollars committed by teams for 2020-21

Percentage of Committed Dollars

ForwardsDefenseGoaliesDead Money

The percentage breakdown is naturally quite similar to the raw dollar breakdown. For forwards, the top team is the Jets at 74%, followed by the Capitals, Red Wings, Penguins, and Blues.

The only difference is the Red Wings in this group. They rank 22nd in most dollar value committed to forwards at $33.3M, but they only have $46.7M committed in total next season so that equates to 71%. The bottom team is the Panthers at 34%, followed by the Canadiens, Rangers, Sharks, and Wild.

For defense, the top team is the Sharks at 44%, followed by the Wild, Panthers, Blackhawks, and Coyotes. The bottom team is the Jets at just 16%, followed by the Bruins, Red Wings, Maple Leafs, and Lightning. With the forward group and defense the Lightning has, it’s no surprise they’ve cut costs on defense.

For goalies, the top team is the Canadiens at 23%, then the Panthers, Lightning, Bruins, and Rangers. At the bottom of the list is obviously the Blackhaws at 0%, then the Penguins, Flyers, Capitals, and Canucks.

Finally for dead money, the Kings lead by a wide margin at 18%, then the usual suspects in the Rangers, Ducks, Panthers, and Oilers. The Panthers are dinged with their portion of the Luongo recapture penalty and buyouts to Jason Demers and Scott Darling.

Rosters are always changing and these breakdowns will change accordingly. The data will be updated for significant events like the draft, free agency, and opening night, but as it stands there are some wildly different roster construction strategies at play in the NHL. Only time will tell as to which is the most effective.

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