Not The Sandman - But It Will Put You To Sleep

I can pretty much talk about hockey 365 days a year, and do. When a friend asks me a question about the AHL or the Sound Tigers, they will get an answer. It took me a while to realize that because they asked me something about the game I love, did not mean they shared my enthusiasm. I first noticed it in the spring when a friend for years asked me to explain what a ‘developmental team’ was. Listening to my response as I explained the roll the AHL was intended to play in the development of players for the NHL, his eyes began to glaze over when I approached the V-260, V-320 (veteran of 260 or 320 professional games) grey areas. An “urgent call” took him from me, and the next day I was ‘un-friended’ on Facebook. That is when I decided it would best to write about the game. While it is still boring to many, at least the number of ‘Happy Birthday’ wishes I get from Facebook friends won’t diminish.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “How much do the players get paid in the AHL?” Were I a man of few words, the answer for this 2011-12 season would be a short “The league minimum is $39,000 the highest paid is getting  $6,500,000.”  This is true though misleading, and as I am not a man of few words and don’t want to mislead you, let me bore you from bottom to top.

Players receiving the league minimum, more often than not came from the ECHL where the pay is approximately $400 per week plus expenses and equipment, pay increases with time served. Pay in both the NHL and AHL is based on a 186 day year, so an AHL player at minimum gets paid about $210 per day for the season. Drafted players assigned to the AHL, have NHL contracts and are under the NHLPA, their minimum is in the $65,000 per year range, depending on the year drafted, or about $350 per day for 186 days.

The $6.5 million top pay I mentioned, is the occasional enigma seen when a player with a one-way NHL contract is assigned to their AHL affiliate. Last year the Sound Tigers had Brendon Witt, this year the Hartford Whale-Pack have Wade Redden. Mr. Redden’s daily wage is nearly $35,000, (I hope he is picking up the tab when the team gets off the bus at the IHOP.)

The highest paid regular season AHL player is Alexandre Giroux of the Springfield Falcons (affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets) who makes $350,000 a year. There are a few other players at the $300k level, a half-a-dozen more making $250k per, and several more in the $200k neighborhood. I am starting to bore myself and about to ask Facebook how I can un-friend myself, so let me try to wrap this up.

There is a magic number in AHL salaries that bears note, $105,000 per year. If you exceed this amount by $1, the player must clear waivers. If you search , my source for everything here, you will find many players at that figure. The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have none. We are a truly a developmental team and a proven competitor.

Pictured at the top of this sleeper of a post is Brock Nelson in a photo taken this spring by friend, fan and gifted photographer, Steve Pope (Pope Steve XXVII).  Brock signed the typical 3-year entry-level contract that high draft picks are awarded. AHL minimum of $67,500, NHL $900,000 per year, $1,925,000 performance bonus (likely unachievable but counts toward the Isles cap.) and a $90,000 signing bonus. I and many Sound Tiger fans, disappointed at the way this past season ended, look forward to watching Brock and his teammates this coming season. Whether at the bottom of the pay-scale or the top, you will see little difference in skill and none in effort. Go Tigers!

- Mike Flannery

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