Orange and Black Pack

What is The 35 Plus Rule in NHL?

35 Plus Rule In Nhl

A 35+ contract in the NHL is for players who are 35 or older at the start of their contract. This rule takes into account if a player turns 35 by June 30 before the contract year begins.

The purpose is to stop teams from gaining extra cap space by offering long, front-loaded contracts to older players.

Under these contracts, if a player retires before it ends, his salary still counts against the team’s salary cap. This ensures fairness and prevents teams from exploiting veteran contracts to maneuver around the NHL’s hard salary cap rules.

How Do 35+ Contracts Differ?

35+ contracts differ due to specific rules that apply to players aged 35 and older, including restrictions on performance bonuses and the impact of their deals on the salary cap.

Rules for players 35 years and older

Players aged 35 or older who sign NHL contracts are bound by specific rules. These contracts become effective based on the player’s age at the start of the contract, not when they signed it.

This rule aims to stop teams from gaining extra cap space through long-term deals that pay more in early years.

Such deals can’t be front-loaded anymore. The total compensation must stay the same or increase over the years. This change helps maintain salary cap integrity and ensures veteran players get fair contracts without teams manipulating their salaries for cap advantages.

Manipulation prevention

The NHL introduced the 35+ rule to stop teams from getting extra salary cap space through tricky contracts. This rule keeps teams honest by making sure the salary of players 35 or older counts against their cap, even if they retire or leave before their contract ends.

It closes loopholes that could have been exploited during negotiations, promoting fairness in team spending.

Teams must be careful when signing older players to long-term deals. The goal is to ensure a level playing field across the NHL by preventing any manipulation of the salary cap system.

This approach helps maintain competitive balance and avoids situations where veteran players are signed under conditions that don’t reflect their current performance level.

Get regular hockey updates to your inbox

Changes to the 35+ Rule in the 2020 CBA

The 35+ Rule underwent significant changes in the 2020 CBA. New multi-year deal options and increased flexibility were introduced to provide fairness for older players.

Players over 35 can now sign multi-year contracts thanks to the 2020 CBA updates. These deals offer them a chance to secure their future in the NHL without worrying about their contract being front-loaded.

This means they don’t have to take less money as they get older, allowing for more stability and security.

These new rules also state that the total compensation of a 35+ contract cannot increase or stay the same, ensuring fairness and preventing teams from manipulating the salary cap. By offering these options, players find more flexibility in planning their careers while teams can manage their rosters more effectively.

Increased flexibility and fairness

The 35+ rule in the NHL has undergone changes to create a fairer system for player contracts. Multi-year deals are now allowed without front-loading, providing more flexibility for players and teams.

This aims to address previous issues and offer a more equitable share of annual compensation with limitations on exceeding 20% of the Club’s upper limit.

Moreover, contracts are no longer considered “35+” if the total compensation remains the same or increases, giving players more options for multi-year deals. These adjustments strive to create a fairer and more flexible system, addressing previous dilemmas and offering increased opportunities for both players and teams within the realm of NHL contracts.

Common Questions About 35+ Contracts

What makes a player eligible for a 35+ contract? How do compensation and offer sheet rules differ for players under and over 35 years of age in the NHL?

Eligibility criteria

A player must be 35 or older as of June 30 when the contract takes effect to be eligible for a 35+ contract in the NHL. This age requirement is a key factor in determining whether a player can enter into such an agreement, and it forms an essential part of the eligibility criteria for this type of contract.

Additionally, a significant change introduced by the new CBA MOU allows players to sign multi-year 35+ deals that are not front loaded. This enhancement provides greater flexibility for players aged 35 and older, expanding their options when it comes to negotiating contracts within the NHL framework.

Compensation and offer sheet rules

A player’s compensation in a 35+ contract must adhere to specific rules. The total salary and bonuses directly impact the team’s salary cap starting from the second year of the contract for multi-year deals signed when the player is 35 or older.

This calculation is crucial, as it determines whether a team can afford to retain or acquire players within their salary cap constraints.

In addition, offer sheet rules govern how teams can extend offers to restricted free agents. These rules play an essential role in maintaining fairness and integrity during free agency periods.

Performance Bonuses and Carryovers

Performance bonuses in NHL contracts provide additional compensation to players based on their individual or team performance, impacting the salary cap. 

Eligibility for bonuses

Players qualified for performance bonuses must be either on an entry-level contract or 35 years of age or older and signed to a one-year deal. Performance bonuses are not available for players on contracts other than entry-level contracts or one-year deals.

In addition, there is a specific rule regarding eligibility for bonuses related to the age and type of contract, ensuring that only certain players can receive these additional earnings based on their qualifications.

Only when either an entry-level’s player or someone aged 35 or above with a one-year contract can they qualify to earn performance bonuses. This restriction ensures that this form of compensation is targeted towards younger players starting their careers and older veterans who agree to shorter-term deals, establishing clear parameters for which players may benefit from these incentives.

Impact on salary cap

Performance bonuses can impact the NHL salary cap, with teams allowed to exceed it by a maximum of 7.5% for these bonuses. Utilizing LTIR can result in players’ performance bonuses becoming a cap charge in the following season.

Contract Restrictions for 35+ Players

35+ players face contract restrictions such as no-move and no-trade clauses. They also encounter limitations on their free agency status.

No-Move and No-Trade Clauses

No-move and no-trade clauses in NHL contracts give players control over their movement. A player with a no-movement clause cannot be traded, waived, or sent to the minor-leagues without his consent.

Similarly, a player with a no-trade clause must agree to being moved by waiving the clause in certain situations. These clauses remain in effect even if the player is assigned to another team.

Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agents

Restricted and unrestricted free agents in the NHL are impacted by the 35+ rule. Players become Group 6 UFAs under specific conditions such as age and professional seasons. The NHL’s collective bargaining agreement includes rules for 35+ contracts to prevent teams from manipulating cap space with front-loaded contracts for veteran players.

The 2020 CBA aimed to address issues related to dead money contracts, updating the rules for 35+ contracts. These changes impact performance bonuses, carryovers, and eligibility criteria for free agency.

Get regular hockey updates to your inbox

Implications for Teams and Players

Teams and players face strategic considerations. The rule impacts retirement and free agency significantly.

Strategy considerations

Navigating strategy considerations in NHL 35+ contracts involves understanding the influence of labor market rules and norms. Teams strategically negotiate contracts based on effort, which impacts player negotiations.

This aligns with the 1-3-1 style of play adopted by NHL teams, emphasizing real players and demonstrating tactical strategies to optimize performance while adhering to contract regulations.

Impact on retirement and free agency

The 35+ rule significantly affects retirement and free agency decisions for NHL players. Teams must consider the cap hit if a player retires with a multi-year deal at age 35 or older, impacting their salary cap.

The negotiations between agents and general managers play a significant role in determining player contracts and their implications for retirement and free agency. Additionally, improved pension plans and medical insurance benefits sought by the NHLPA impact retirement decisions for players.

Teams are restricted from manipulating cap space with front-loaded contracts for players aged 35 or older, which also has implications for both players and teams in the NHL regarding retirement and free agency.