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Nash Daily: Bylsma to Seattle; NHL Agent Allan Walsh on NHL Salaries

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Photo fo Dan Bylsma via Pittsburgh Hockey Now

Former Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma is set to be announced as the second head coach in franchise history for the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday.

Bylsma spent six-and-a-half seasons at the helm in Pittsburgh, winning the Stanley Cup in 2009. Bylsma also had a short stint in Buffalo after his time in Pittsburgh. 

He’s currently the head coach of the Coachella Valley Firebirds, who are preparing to face the Milwaukee Admirals in the Western Conference Final in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Coachella is the AHL affiliate for the Kraken, so the move is an internal promotion. 

On another note, I recently read a tweet from NHLPA agent Allan Walsh.

If you’re familiar with Walsh, you’ll know there’s no ambiguity in how he feels about the current Collective Bargaining Agreement or NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. But politics and client advocacy aside, this statement is completely misleading.

At face value, Walsh’s claim appears to be substantiated as Peter Forsberg was the highest salaried player in 2000-01 at $11 million and NHL revenues have increased 340%, while the NHL’s current highest salaried player is Austin Matthews at $16.7M entering the 2024-25 season.  

But there’s more to the story than this as I briefly mentioned on X.

The NHL expanded to 30 teams that season welcoming the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets. The NHL has since expanded to 32 teams having added the Vegas Golden Knights (2017-18) and the Seattle Kraken (2021-22). Without the need for any further details, the NHL has already created an additional 92 NHL roster jobs from these four expansions alone (23 times 4). Not bad. 

Additionally, the league minimum salary at the time was $150,000, while it will now be $775,000 entering the 2024-25 season. That’s a 417% increase since the 2000-01 season. Again, not bad. 

While these are only two of the more general responses to the misleading post Walsh made, they hold considerable weight in any argument. When it comes to the legitimacy of a salary cap in professional sports, I can appreciate both sides. The complexities of media deals and the definition of hockey related revenue can become convoluted quite quickly. And then don’t even get started on the frustration that is escrow in the 50/50 owner/player revenue split.  

But one thing is for certain, comparing salaries from 23 years ago to today to prove an argument won’t take you far on that journey. The NHL has grown tremendously since the turn of the century. The players, their salaries and their well-being have come along with it. 

I’m curious to see what comes of the new CBA deal as the current one is set to expire Sept. 15, 2026. But using this chart to explain player salaries won’t hold much sway at the negotiating table. 

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Follow Clay Brewer on Twitter/X: @ClayBrewer10

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