Article 11 of the CBA has, easily, the dumbest title in the entire document. But beyond the clunkiness of its headings, it’s actually a fairly interesting piece of writing.
Let’s check out Article 11: Rules and Procedures Governing Standard Player’s Contract!
The SPC is the main NHL contract
Section 11.1 is a quick overview of the three types of NHL contacts. Amateur Try-outs (ATOs) and Goaltender Professional Try-outs (PTOs) are mentioned briefly, but 11.1(a) defines explicitly that the standard player contract (SPC) is the main NHL employment contract.
RFA signing deadline
Per Section 11.4, the deadline for Group 2 Restricted Free Agents to sign an SPC is 5 p.m. ET on Dec. 1. Contracts filed after that time won’t be accepted (and those players won’t be able to play in the NHL in that season).
No team bonuses
Per Section 11.7, teams aren’t allowed to have their own bonus systems. The only bonuses that can exist are lad out in Section 50.2(b) – we’ll get into them later – which are performance bonuses (Schedule A, Schedule B and games played) for entry level players and performance bonuses (of different kinds) for players that sign 35+ contracts.
No move and no trade clauses
Section 11.8 lays out restrictions on player mobility: no-trade clauses (NTCs) and no-move clauses (NMCs). NMCs and NTCs can only be in effect during a player’s UFA years (e.g., the first season where they’re 27, or their 8th accrued season), but they can be agreed to beforehand.
Per Section 11.8(a), if a player is traded before their NMC or NTC kicks in, it’s up to the acquiring team to decide if they want to honour it. (While not explicitly stated within this section, if an active NMC or NTC is waived, it’s still active upon the transfer of the contract to the new club.)
Per Section 11.8(c), a NMC doesn’t restrict a club’s buyout or termination rights. Since a player with a NMC can’t be waived, a buyout involving a player without one proceeds straight to the contract termination.
Buyouts outside the regular buyout period
Buyouts are described more generally within Paragraph 13 of the SPC. But Section 11.18 of the CBA itself details buyouts outside of the “regular” buyout period before the NHL Draft.
Clubs shall have the right to exercise Ordinary Course Buy-Outs outside the regular period for Ordinary Course Buy-Outs in accordance with Paragraph 13(c)(ii) of the SPC. Each Club shall be limited to no more than three (3) such Buy-Outs outside the regular period over the term of this Agreement pursuant to Paragraph 13 of the SPC. However, in the event that a Club has only one salary arbitration hearing pursuant to Section 12.3(a) in a given League Year, such Club shall not be entitled to exercise such an Ordinary Course Buy-Out outside the regular period. Moreover, a Club shall not be entitled to exercise an Ordinary Course Buy-Out outside the regular period for: (i) any Player who was not on the Club’s Reserve List as of the most recent Trade Deadline, or (ii) any Player with an Averaged Amount less than $2,750,000.
Alright, there’s a bunch of stuff to unpack here and we have to go to Paragraph 13(c)(ii) of the SPC:
(ii) For Clubs who have Club or Player elected Salary Arbitration filings pursuant to Article 12, within the forty-eight (48) hour period beginning on the third day following the later of: (i) the Club’s receipt of its last salary arbitration award; or (ii) settlement of its last case (provided such award was received or such settlement occurred prior to 7:00 p.m. New York time; awards or settlements that occurred or were received at or after 7:00 p.m. New York time will be deemed to have occurred or received the following business day for purposes of this provision).
In other words: teams can use the “extra” buyout window three times during the CBA period (e.g., 2013-2022). Teams also can’t buy out players that they acquired after the trade deadline and they can’t buy out players with a cap hit below an indexed cap hit – it was $2.75 million in 2013, in 2019 it was around $3.45 million.
There are a few minor things spelled out elsewhere in Article 11.
Per Section 11.10, you can’t renegotiate a SPC once it’s signed. Per Section 11.13, you can’t have option years.
Per Section 11.12, the minimum NHL salary is $700,000 for 2020-21 and $750,000 for 2021-22. (In was lower in prior seasons, but those aren’t really relevant.)
Per Section 11.19, players can be loaned to teams outside North America. The circumstances can depend: some players negotiate clauses that allow them to go back to Europe if they don’t make the NHL team, while sometimes it’s negotiated by the team themselves. The section is super broad and is more about what can be done – European teams can pay some or all of a loaned player’s salary, for example – than about building a clause that’s more binding or restrictive.