What happens when an NHL team is over the salary cap?

The National Hockey League (NHL) imposes a salary cap on its teams to maintain a level of competitiveness and limit spending on player salaries. The salary cap for the 2022-23 NHL season is set at $81.5 million. But do you know what happens when an NHL team is over the salary cap? When an NHL team exceeds the salary cap, they face serious consequences that can impact their performance on the ice and their financial stability.

Here are the details as what happens when an NHL team is over the salary cap?

Penalties for Going Over the Salary Cap

When a team goes over the salary cap, they are charged a penalty equal to the amount they are over. For example, if a team has a payroll of $82 million, they would be charged a penalty of $500,000 ($82 million – $81.5 million). This penalty is in addition to their regular salary cap and effectively increases the amount they are over the cap.

Prohibited Transactions

If a team exceeds the salary cap, they are not allowed to make any new player signings or trade for players until they get back under the cap. This can seriously limit a team’s ability to improve its roster and compete for the Stanley Cup.

Recapture Penalty

Some player contracts include performance bonuses, and if a team exceeds the salary cap, they may be penalized for these bonuses. This penalty is known as the recapture penalty and is designed to discourage teams from offering players performance bonuses that would push them over the salary cap. The recapture penalty can be significant and can add to the team’s financial difficulties.


In order to get under the salary cap, a team may be forced to buy out players. This involves paying a portion of a player’s contract over a period of time, typically two-thirds of the remaining value of the contract spread over twice the remaining length of the contract. For example, if a player has a contract worth $6 million per year for three years, a buyout would cost the team $4 million spread over six years.


The NHL may also impose fines on teams that repeatedly go over the salary cap. These fines can be substantial and are intended to discourage teams from regularly exceeding the salary cap. In extreme cases, the NHL may also revoke a team’s draft picks or impose other penalties.


The salary cap is a critical component of the NHL’s financial structure and helps to maintain a level of competitiveness among teams. Teams that exceed the salary cap face serious consequences, including penalties, prohibited transactions, recapture penalties, buyouts, and fines. In order to avoid these penalties, teams must carefully manage their payroll and stay within the salary cap limits.

Interested in knowing more about NHL: https://www.nhl.com/

Also read: https://latestandtrending.com/nba-league-nba-summer-league-how-does-it-work-purpose-and-differences/

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