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Jordan Staal scored 12 goals and 28 points in 82 games last season. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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Jordan Staal scored 12 goals and 28 points in 82 games last season. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

It’s a group effort for the Ask Adam feature this week. Despite the fact it’s the off-season, our readers’ thirst for knowledge is unquenchable. Keep those questions coming, though.

This edition begins with a pair of questions about the salary cap.

Greetings. Can you please give me an abridged tutorial in how salaries are calculated, for cap purposes, for entry-level players? I have been mystified to read in several sources that Jordan Staal's first three-year contract ends with an '08-09 salary of $850,000, but carries a cap hit for the same season of $2.2 million.

I read similar dissonance in the discussions leading to Malkin's recent extension regarding his actual vs. cap-hit numbers. I thought the cap hit was the yearly average of the total money over the life of the contract (i.e., total contract value divided by the number of years), but that formula doesn't fit these numbers. Huh? And to anticipate your return question, yes, I have no life, and calculating these things actually interests me. Thanks.

Phil Pierre, Pittsburgh


Dear Pierre,

Salaries and cap hits are usually fairly straightforward, at least as straightforward as anything could be in the CBA - but the cap hits for entry-level players are a moving target.

The reason is, players in their entry-level contracts stand to make significant sums of money in performance bonuses, so nobody knows exactly what their salaries will be from one year to the next.

Let's take your Jordan Staal example. His base salary is listed at $850,000, but the cap hit is listed at $2.2 million. That's because if Staal hits all of his bonuses, he will receive $2.2 million and because it could possibly happen, the Penguins must set aside that $2.2 million in cap space at the beginning of the season whether Staal hits his bonuses or not.

As the season progresses and it becomes impossible for the player to hit the bonuses that cap space goes back to the team.

In the vast majority of other cases, personal bonuses are not involved and the cap hit is, as you said, the total contract value divided by the number of years of the deal. Thanks for your question. – KC

If a player signs a contract extension, but already has some years remaining on a previous contract, does the money in the extension factor into that player's cap hit immediately or only once the previous contract expires?

Steve Brasier, Ottawa


Hey, Steve;

The salary cap hit from the extension only comes into play when the new deal begins. To use another Penguins example, Evgeni Malkin’s extension doesn’t start until ’09-10, so his cap hit for next season is $3.8 million ($984,000 plus bonuses allowance).

The following season his cap hit jumps to $8.7 million. By the way, the best resources on the web for salary cap info are nhlscap.com and nhlnumbers.com. – EF

Will the NHL return to having white jerseys at home and the colored jerseys on the road? I would rather see the colored jersey of the opponent 41 times a years as opposed to seeing every team’s white uniform. My only other suggestion is to leave the uniforms as is for the regular season and switch for the post-season. I'm just sick of seeing white!

Eric Whitener, Northville, Mich.

Eric;

No, the NHL will not return to white-jerseys-at-home, at least for a while. The board of governors has had discussions in the past on the matter, but apparently teams prefer the current arrangement.

Originally the status quo was maintained so teams could show off their own colored jerseys at home when the new RBK uniforms came in and they’ve stuck with it since.

Occasionally teams will switch it up to show off their whites at home (they have to run it by the other team and the NHL first, of course), but it doesn’t happen often. - RK

With all the trades going on and teams getting better, which division do you see as the toughest for the 2008-09 season?

Spencer, Eyebrow, Sask.


Hey Spencer;

It would be tough to argue against the Northwest Division being the toughest in the NHL last year and they should challenge for that distinction again next year, though I believe the Pacific has passed them.

The addition of Olli Jokinen to the Phoenix Coyotes coupled with an entire season of Ilya ‘Cool Bryz’ Bryzgalov should make them a true playoff contender, which means the Pacific has at least four teams with a shot at the post-season. In addition, while the Los Angeles Kings will still suffer through some growing pains, I think they are capable of winning a few more games this season and playing as a difficult spoiler down the stretch.

The Northwest is still full of teams no one wants to face, but it is slowly developing into a shutdown division. Minnesota and Vancouver are going to rely heavily on their defense and goaltending after losing some scoring when they were already the lowest scoring teams in their division last year, while Colorado could be without two veteran offensive minds (Sakic and Forsberg). Sure you wouldn’t want to face those shutdown teams in a one-game showdown for a playoff spot at the end of the season, but overall I think you’ll have more playoff-bound teams from the Pacific this year. - RB

Who qualifies as a rookie in the NHL? I have seen guys who played the year before, but the following season they are named a rookie. Does it matter how many games they play? For example, Kyle Turris is a rookie next season, while he played a few games last season.

Mike Harland, Kitchener, Ont.


Mike,

Here is how the NHL defines ‘rookie’ for players to be eligible for the Calder Memorial Trophy from the Official Guide and Record Book:

“To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played more than 25 games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons in any major professional league. Beginning in 1990-91, to be eligible for this award a player must not have attained his 26th birthday by Sept. 15 of the season in which he is eligible.”

Furthermore, the NHL made the change in the ‘rookie’ definition in 1990-91 after Sergei Makarov won the Calder in 1989-90 as a 31-year-old. Makarov put up 86 points in 80 games for the Calgary Flames that year after spending the 11 previous hockey seasons with CSKA Moscow in the Russian Super League. - JD

Ask Adam appears Tuesdays in the summer only on TheHockeyNews.com. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

Adam Proteau is The Hockey News' online columnist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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