Total Salary Cap Spending by Position 2007/08 – 2010/11

To ground everything, let’s look at the basics of how big the pot of NHL compensation dollars was for each of the last four seasons segmented into three buckets:  forwards, defensemen and goalies.

The numbers above are the starting point of our analysis. We take the totals for each type of player and divide them between all the players based on their REGULAR SEASON performance.  For more details on about these calculation, please read our Puckonomics methodology.

Here are some key assumptions that went into these numbers:

1) Two-Way contract players needed to play a material number of games to be included in the analysis. If a 2-way non-goalie player played less than 15 games they were probably not included.  There are about  150 forwards, 50 defensmen and 15 goalies who had a cup of coffee in the big leagues each year who did not play enough games, generated sufficient statistical value or earn enough salary to be included in our analysis.

2) One-way contract players are included in the analysis even if they were hurt and only played a small number of games during the season.  The exception to this assumption are players who did not play a single game all year and were on Long Term Injured Reserved the entire season. Example of players who missed a full year are Mike Rathje in 07/08 and 08/09 or Mark Streit in 2010/11. Salaries for these types of situations are not included. However, Marc Savard who only played 25 games in 2011 had his full $4M  cap hit included. Savard’s 2011-12 $4M cap hit will not be included since it does not look he will play this year.

At this high-level there are a couple of interesting points of note:

– Average salaries seen above are pretty similar between the three groups, but not all that meaningful given it would just be an average and includes a wide range of player quality and number of games played.

– It seems the trend to paying goalies a smaller percentage of overall salary cap is indeed reflected in the numbers.