NHL Draft

How much money will 2023 NHL Draft picks make? What to know about entry-level contracts

With the 2023 NHL Draft underway, here's a look at how much money prospects can sign for

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Connor Bedard has officially gone from a highly coveted draft prospect to a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago kicked off the first round of Thursday's 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee, in unsurprising fashion by selecting Bedard No. 1 overall.

The 17-year-old Canadian center has been dubbed the best prospect since Connor McDavid in 2015. Bedard racked up 71 goals, 72 assists and 143 points over 57 games with the Western Hockey League's Regina Pats in 2022-23. It was his second consecutive 100-point campaign in the WHL.

So, how much money will Bedard earn after hearing his name called first? Here's what to know about entry-level contracts in the NHL.

How do NHL rookie contracts work?

The first NHL deal most players sign is what's called an entry-level contract. Any player under the age of 25, or under 28 if they are considered a European player, as of Sept. 15 during the year they sign their first NHL deal can only receive an ELC, as explained by CapFriendly.

An ELC is a two-way contract and the maximum salary value is determined by the year in which the player was drafted. There are some cases where a player won't immediately sign an ELC after being drafted, like if they're planning to play at the college level in the subsequent season. How long a team owns a draft pick's rights depends on the player's age and where they're playing. It can range from two years to indefinitely.

How long is an NHL rookie contract?

An ELC varies in length depending on the age of the player. A player in the 18-21 age range signs a three-year deal, a player in the 22-23 age range signs for two years and a player aged 24 and up signs for one year.

There is an ability for an entry-level contract to "slide," or be extended, should a player not immediately play for the NHL team. If a player in the 18-19 age range, as of Sept. 15 during the year they signed, logs fewer than 10 combined regular season and playoff appearances at the NHL level, their contract extends by one year. This, however, does not apply to a player who is 19 by that Sept. 15 date and turns 20 between Sept. 16 and Dec. 31.

An 18-year-old player can have their contract extended for two seasons, unless they turn 19 between Sept.16 and Dec. 31 during the year they signed.

How much do NHL rookies make?

A player selected in the 2023 NHL Draft can sign for a maximum salary of $950,000, per CapFriendly. But there are ways for an entry-level player to earn additional cash.

Performance and signing bonuses can be added to an ELC. For a player drafted in 2023, the maximum bonus values that can be included are a 10% signing bonus ($95K maximum) and $3.5 million in performance bonuses. Performance bonuses count against a team's salary cap, meaning the total average annual value of the deal could reach $4.45 million.

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