Tyler Bozak, 24, scored eight goals and 27 points in 37 games last season, his first in the NHL. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
We all know about bonus clauses in contracts. Score 50 goals, get a mitt full of money! Win the Conn Smythe Trophy, get a mitt full of money! (Even if we have to squeeze it under the cap next season.)
What exactly player bonuses are based on can differ and are not normally released for public consumption. And while bonuses are usually reserved for young studs just entering the league, that’s not always the case. Just ask 40-year-old Teemu Selanne or 42-year-old Mark Recchi, who between them can earn $2.2 million in bonuses this coming season. Top totals in stats categories can earn player bonuses, as can winning or coming close to winning major awards and being named an end-of-year all-star.
In the real world, everyone guns for Christmas or end-of-fiscal bonuses. But in the NHL, bonuses can actually keep players from their dreams. As THN’s Brian Costello pointed out last weekend, because bonuses must be accounted for under a team’s cap, they can keep players off the rosters of capped-out NHL teams and buried in the American League. So bonus babies beware: mo’ money, mo’ problems.
Here is THN.com’s Top 10 NHL bonuses:
This is coyote territory, as in Phoenix Coyote Kyle Turris. The third overall pick in 2007 has been slow to develop by top-five-selection standards, but had 24 goals and 63 points in 76 AHL games last season with middling San Antonio. He is expected to be Phoenix’s third-line center this coming campaign.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn slots in here. The 20-year-old is entering his third NHL season after making the jump straight from junior as the fifth overall pick in 2008. He’s been a whipping boy of sorts in Toronto, but with a bolstered blueline and less pressure last season, Schenn’s numbers increased while his ice time decreased.
Ah, brotherly rivalries. Not satisfied to earn less than his big bro, L.A.’s Brayden Schenn made sure to negotiate an extra $15,000 into his bonus plan after being drafted in the same position as Luke a year later. The soon-to-be 19-year-old will push for playing time with the Kings in 2010-11 after 258 points in three Western League seasons.
This is where Atlanta’s Evander Kane drops in. The just-turned 19-year-old also entered the league straight from junior after going fourth overall last summer. He finished seventh in rookie goals-scored last season with 14 despite playing less than 14 minutes per game.
Last season’s runner-up for the Calder Trophy, Matt Duchene, didn’t max out his bonuses, but did pretty well for himself; he led all rookies in scoring (24-31-55) and led his Colorado Avalanche to the playoffs, to boot.
The fifth spot on the list is reserved for THN’s No. 1 prospect, Alex Pietrangelo. The St. Louis defender has played 17 NHL games already and is expected to make the leap to the big-time full-time this coming season after dominating the junior ranks in 2009-10.
Atlanta defenseman Zach Bogosian fills the No. 4 spot. The 20-year-old from Massena, N.Y., went third overall in 2008 after terrorizing the Ontario League with Peterborough. He jumped straight into the Thrashers lineup and is on the fast track to stardom.
Our first tie involves defensemen drafted second overall one season apart, Drew Doughty (’08) and Victor Hedman (’09). So far Doughty has proved more likely to collect his extra cash than Hedman, but both are sublime talents who will vie for Norris Trophies for years to come.
The Bruin who could have been a Leaf, Tyler Seguin, sits alone in second place. Now, here’s a perfect example of a kid who may have to wait a year to play no matter how he performs in camp. Boston is over the cap by $3.1 million and Seguin will count for $3.5 million. So unless the B’s can make some moves or are willing to eat someone’s contract in the AHL, the No. 2 pick from this summer’s draft will be back in the OHL.
Four players tie for first in possible bonus money. Three are – not surprisingly – the past three No. 1 picks, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares and Taylor Hall. The fourth is – quite surprisingly – Toronto’s Tyler Bozak. The 24-year-old free agent signing out of Denver University led all rookies in points-per-game average last season at 0.73, but played just 37 games with the Leafs after spending time with the AHL Marlies. No offense, but we get the feeling the three No. 1s will cash in before Bozak does.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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