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The Cost Of A Fight

In a mostly forgettable game a little less than three weeks ago, the Edmonton Oilers played host to the Atlanta Thrashers. Afternoon games are not my favourites on the schedule and based on their play through the first two periods, the Oilers aren’t big fans of them either. The first 40 minutes were, to put it bluntly, boring. But all that changed in the third period as the Oilers came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the game 5-3. Leading the way in the comeback was Taylor Hall, whose natural hat trick took the Oilers from down two to up one in the span of 12:53. For Hall those were goals 18, 19, and 20 of the season; the last of the three qualified him for his first performance bonus and was worth the tidy sum of $212,500 for the rookie.

Now though Hall has been lost for the season to a high ankle sprain that he suffered in a fight with Derek Dorsett and for the fans in Edmonton there will be no more afternoon like that one until at least next season. This is unfortunate for the fans certainly but I got to thinking about other potential bonuses that Hall will now miss out on as a result of the injury. Hall is one four rookie whose contract includes the maximum $2.85M bonus that a rookie can earn (Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, and Tyler Bozak are the others) so there are some potentially big dollars being left on the table.


Exhibit 5 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement provides a breakdown of the performances bonuses that can be included in any player’s entry level contract. These are broken down into two categories: "A" bonuses based on performance thresholds, and "B" bonuses based on league wide trophies and performance.

Let’s start with the "A" bonuses. The CBA identifies nine "A" bonuses for forwards, each with a maximum amount of $212,500. The ELC can contain any, or all, of the nine bonuses but the total bonus amount received cannot exceed $850,000. I don’t have access to the contract Taylor Hall signed but I think it’s safe to assume that it contains all nine bonuses at the maximum allowable compensation and the minimum threshold for achievement. I’ll breakdown each bonus category below to see how the injury could affect Hall’s wallet.

Ice time (aggregate and/or per game) – Player must be among the top six forwards with a minimum of 42 games played.

Player  GP  Aggregate TOI  Required TOI Average TOI/G
Sam Gagner  68 1206:59 0:00 0:00
Taylor Hall  65 1183:38 -
Dustin Penner  62 1144:42 -
Andrew Cogliano  68 1129:17 54:22 3:53
Jordan Eberle  55 975:58 207:41 14:50
Magnus Paajarvi  66 973:09 210:30 15:02
Ales Hemsky  47 859:16 324:23 23:10
Ryan Jones  67 848:50 334:49 23:55
Shawn Horcoff  45 838:50 344:49 24:38

The above table shows the total ice time for the Oilers top nine forward this season; Hall ranks second. Had he stayed healthy there is no way he’d have fallen out of the top six but now that he’s injured he could be passed. The ice time each player will have to average over the last 14 games of the season is shown in the last column. It’s probably a safe bet to assume that, barring injury, Cogliano, Eberle, and Paajarvi will all pass Hall by seasons end. For Hall to fall out of the top six though, two of Hemsky, Jones, and Horcoff would also need to move past him. Based on what they’d need to play I don’t think that’s very likely.

Player  GP  TOI/G  Average TOI/G TOI/G Change
Shawn Horcoff  45 18:38 16:53 -1:45
Dustin Penner  62 18:27 - -
Ales Hemsky  47 18:16 18:03 -0:13
Taylor Hall  65 18:12 - -
Sam Gagner  68 17:44 20:34 2:50
Jordan Eberle  55 17:44 20:07 2:23
Andrew Cogliano  68 16:36 26:04 9:28
Magnus Paajarvi  66 14:44 34:38 19:54
Linus Omark  37 14:27 28:10 13:43


The table above breaks down the average ice time for Oiler forwards. On this measure Hall sits fourth and would have stayed at or near that spot without the injury. But he is no more likely to fall out of the top six in average than he was in aggregate ice time now that he’s injured. Even if Gagner and Eberle were to average over 20 minutes a game for the remainder of the year, Cogliano would have to become a 26 minute a night player for Hall to not qualify. That simply won’t happen.

The ice time bonus can be either aggregate, average, or a combination of the two. Regardless of the breakdown Hall would have qualified for this bonus had he not been injured and will still qualify even with the injury. Give the man $212,500.

Goals – minimum 20 goals
Already achieved, that’ll be another $212,500 please.

Assists – minimum 35 assists

GP  A  A/G Pace Required A/G % Increase
65 20 0.31 25 0.88 184%

With only 20 assists through 65 games Hall would have had to average almost 0.9 assists per game to achieve this bonus. Healthy or not, that wasn’t going to happen.

Points – minimum 60 points

GP  P P/G Pace Required P/G % Increase
65 42 0.65 53 1.06 63%

Prior to the injury Hall was on pace for 53 points. Adding seven points to that total over 17 games would have been exciting to watch but likely wouldn’t have happened. Maybe playing alongside a healthy Hemsky it could have been possible but Hemsky is out for another 2 weeks minimum so this was out of reach before the injury.

Points per game – minimum 0.73 points per game
60 points in 82 games works out to an average of 0.73 points per game. It already been covered that Hall wasn’t going to reach the 60 point plateau so he would have been able to reach this one either.

Plus-Minus rating – among the top three forwards with a minimum 42 games played

Player  GP  +/- 
Ales Hemsky  47 3
Jean-Francois Jacques  40 1
Shawn Horcoff  45 1
Colin Fraser  61 1
Liam Reddox  30 -1
Ryan Jones  67 -3
Gilbert Brule  37 -5
Magnus Paajarvi  66 -6
Jordan Eberle  55 -7
Taylor Hall  65 -9

At the time of the injury Hall sat tenth among forwards in +/-. To crack the top three Hall would likely have to get close to even. Putting up a +7 or +8 over 17 games would be possible. The problem for Hall is that this wouldn’t have happened in a vacuum; if he’s a plus player on a given night his line mates probably are too which makes getting into the top three very difficult. This isn’t as solid as some of the other categories but I’ll say this isn’t a bonus he was going to achieve and certainly won’t now that he’s injured.   

End-of-Season NHL All-Rookie Team
At the time of the injury the forwards on the all-rookie team would have been likely Hall, Jeff Skinner, and Logan Couture. But with the injury the door is now open for Tyler Ennis, Michael Grabner, Derek Stepan, or maybe even Eberle. I think this was guaranteed money for Hall before the injury but now not so much.

NHL All-Star Game selection
He was there for the skill competition but not the game. Sorry no bonus for you.
NHL All-Star Game MVP
I think this is the oddest bonus category included I the CBA. Strange or not Hall didn’t play so he certainly wasn’t the MVP.

All told, Hall was going to achieve three "A" bonuses for a total of $637,500 out of a possible $850,000. His injury puts one of those, the All Rookie Team, and the associated $212,500 at risk.

In addition to "A" bonuses players on entry level contracts are eligible for "B" bonuses for winning or being nominated for major individual awards and finishing in the top 10 league wide in a number of statistical categories. Depending on the award "B" bonuses can be worth up to $250,000 each. Like "A" bonuses there is a maximum, in this case $2,000,000.

For forwards the awards that are bonus eligible are the Hart, Rocket Richard, Selke, Lady Byng, Conn Smythe, and Calder. Being named a 1st or 2nd Team All-Star is also bonus eligible. Of all these Hall only had a realistic chance of being nominated for the Calder Trophy as the leagues top rookie. As the winner he would have received $212,500. 2nd and 3rd place would have been worth $150,000 and 100,000 respectively.  I believe that a healthy Taylor Hall has a good chance to win the Calder and at the very least is nominated guaranteeing himself and $100,00. Missing the final 17 games of the season almost certainly means he won't be nominated. Some combination of Skinner, Couture, Ennis, Grabner, Stepan, Corey Crawford, and Cam Fowler will likely be the nominees.

Also included in the "B" bonuses are top ten finishes in goal, assists, points (each worth $150,000 to the winner and $10,000 less to each subsequent position), and points per game (worth $100,000 to the winner and $10,000 less to each subsequent position). This season Hall was not going to finish in the top ten in any of these categories.

Totaling the "B" bonuses had Hall not gotten injured he'd have received at a minimum $100,000 and could have gotten as much as $212,500. Add that to his "A" bonuses and the injury will cost Hall between $312,500 and $425,000. That's a pretty good chunk of money to lose. But before you feel too bad for him, between his salary of $900,000, signing bonus of $90,000, and performance bonuses worth $425,000 he'll still make a total of $1.415M $1.325M in his rookie season.