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The Globe and Mail

Big signing bonuses becoming NHL's new norm

Buffalo Sabres' Andrej Sekera (44), of Slovakia, controls the puck as Carolina Hurricanes' Jerome Samson (71) chases during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday, April 3, 2011. The Sabres won 2-1 in overtime. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Gerry Broome

It wasn't a contract that drew much attention leaguewide, and certainly not on the day that Steven Stamkos finally signed, but there was an interesting wrinkle in Buffalo Sabres defenceman Andrej Sekera's new four-year, $11-million deal yesterday.

The contract wasn't just front-loaded: It was heavily so, with $6-million - or 55 per cent of the contract - due in the next 11.5 months.

(As one agent put it after seeing the figures: "It's a new world order in Buffalo!")

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Sekera's deal comes with a $3-million signing bonus this season and another $1.75-million signing bonus on July 1, 2012, which gives him the type of "lockout insurance" many players are building into their deals these days and front loads a front-loaded deal even more than normal with the lump sum payments.

Even if the NHL misses time with a work stoppage, Sekera will likely have more than half of his salary, guaranteed. (How exactly signing bonuses work depends on the language in the contract but, by design, that's the intent of all of these 2012 ones that have been showing up.)

Sekera's signing bonuses are currently the eighth biggest given out in 2011 and 11th biggest in 2012, which is substantial considering his cap hit is only $2.75-million.

Courtesy of, here is the full list of players receiving substantial signing bonuses the next two years (note that most have been signed very recently):


1. Brad Richards, NY Rangers, $10-million 2. Christian Ehrhoff, Buffalo, $8-million 3. Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia, $5-million 4. Ville Leino, Buffalo, $5-million 5. Kevin Bieksa, Vancouver, $4.5-million 6. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay, $4-million 7. Erik Cole, Montreal, $3-million 8. Andrej Sekera, Buffalo, $3-million 9. James Wisniewski, Columbus, $2-million 10. Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay, $1.5-million 11. Steve Montador, Chicago, $1-million


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1. Brad Richards, NY Rangers, $8-million 2. Christian Ehrhoff, Buffalo, $5-million 3. Ville Leino, Buffalo, $4-million 4. Kevin Bieksa, Vancouver, $3.5-million 5. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay, $3.5-million 6. James Wisniewski, Columbus, $3-million 7. Marty St. Louis, Tampa Bay, $2-million 8. Erik Cole, Montreal, $2-million 9. Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver, $2-million 10. Brent Seabrook, Chicago, $2-million 11. Andrej Sekera, Buffalo, $1.75-million

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