NHL signing bonuses ease the lockout sting of missed paycheques for many players
Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, Jason Garrison, Cory Schneider among those Canucks who negotiated up-front bonuses into their current contracts
No. 1 signing bonus: Shea Weber, Nashville Predators defenceman, gets a signing bonus of $13 million in the 2012-13 NHL season, according to capgeek.com
Photograph by: Bill Wippert, NHL via Getty Images
VANCOUVER — NHL players missed their first paycheques of the season on Monday, but some aren't feeling the financial squeeze the way most of their locked-out brethren are.
A significant number of NHL players, including four Vancouver Canucks, took the astute step of negotiating signing bonuses that have already paid them a significant portion of their salaries for the 2012-13 season.
Defenceman Kevin Bieksa, for example, has already been paid $3.5 million of the $4.5 million he was scheduled to make this season. That payout came in the form of a signing bonus that was paid to him on July 1.
Bieksa, who earned a finance degree while playing collegiate hockey for Bowling Green University, negotiated that bonus knowing that the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and its players was expiring this past summer and he knew there was a significant threat of a work stoppage.
"Everybody's deals are different," Bieksa said Monday. "One of the priorities for me was looking forward to this year with my contract and I structured it a certain way and other guys in the league did as well.
"That was our priority. Other people have different priorities — to make as much money as they can, to have their contracts front-loaded, to be in a certain city, having a no-trade (clause). Everybody has their own priorities when they are structuring their deals. I happened to have this as mine so that's the way it is."
In hindsight, it looks like a brilliant decision by Bieksa and agent Kurt Overhardt.
Bieksa's signing bonus is the biggest among current Canucks. Fellow defenceman Jason Garrison received $3 million of his scheduled $5.5-million salary this season as a signing bonus when he signed his six-year, $27.6-million contract with the Canucks this past July 1.
Garrison is also continuing to get paid during the lockout while he recovers from a groin injury suffered during training this summer.
Defenceman Dan Hamhuis was scheduled to earn $4.25 million this season with the Canucks. But he got nearly half of it on July 1 when he received a $2-million signing bonus.
The expiring CBA was definitely on Hamhuis's mind when he and agent Wade Arnott negotiated that contract.
"Well, you see the track record of what happens after CBAs expire and I tried to plan accordingly and limit as much loss as I could individually," Hamhuis said after skating at UBC on Monday.
"That is something that we kind of planned out for."
Goalie Cory Schneider and his agent, former goalie Mike Liut, negotiated a signing bonus for this season when they agreed to a three-year, $12-million deal with the Canucks this past summer.
Schneider was scheduled to earn $3.5 million this season, but has already been paid $500,000 of that in a signing bonus. Schneider said Monday it just made good business sense.
"Sure, I think a lot of guys took that route," Schneider said. "It was too bad that far ahead of time you could foresee this happening. But it's a good thing that we did and a lot of guys went that way."
The three highest-paid Canucks, goalie Roberto Luongo (scheduled to make $6.716 million this season) and the Sedin twins ($6.1 million) do not have signing bonuses built into their contracts for this season. Henrik Sedin said Monday he is fine with that.
"It's up to each and every player," the Canucks’ captain said. "We were happy at the time to sign a deal like we did and that's all you can think of."
The Canucks bonuses pale in comparison to some handed out this summer around the league.
Sicamous native Shea Weber received a $13-million signing bonus this season when he signed his 14-year, $110-million deal with the Nashville Predators. Weber was scheduled to make $14 million this season, so if the entire season was lost he'd be out only $1 million.
Ryan Suter and Zach Parise each pocketed $10-million signing bonuses on their $12-million salaries this season when they signed this summer with the Minnesota Wild.
Former Canucks defenceman Christian Ehrhoff has already received $5 million of his $8-million salary with the Buffalo Sabres this season as a signing bonus.
On Twitter: Twitter.com/bradziemer
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