Hockey contracts

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The following are the types of hockey contracts that players may be signed to when they play professional ice hockey.

NHL Contracts[edit]

Two way contract[edit]

Main article: Two-way contract

A two-way contract is a professional sports contract which stipulates that an athlete’s salary is dependent upon the league in which the athlete is assigned to play.

One-way contract[edit]

A one-way contract means that the player is paid the same amount of money regardless of whether he plays in the NHL or the AHL. [1]

Standard Player Contract[edit]


This is what a player signs to lay out the terms of their playing status and salary. This is not transferable to the NHL and would require the player to sign a new contract with the NHL team.[2]

Professional Try Out[edit]

A Professional Try Out (PTO) is found in the AHL and NHL. In the AHL, this type of contract is limited to 25 games and a player can only be signed to a PTO twice per season. After the second time, the player is either signed to a Standard Player Contract, is a free agent, or if the player is signed to an ECHL team, he is then returned to that team.[3] During the National Hockey League (NHL) preseason, veteran players who tryout for a team sign a PTO.[4]

Amateur Try Out[edit]

An Amateur Try Out (ATO) is found in the NHL, the AHL, and the ECHL. This type of contract is for players who are leaving college and attempting to turn professional, are done with college, or are graduating from the junior leagues. An ATO is a very common practice near the end of the professional seasons as they go deeper into the year than college or junior schedules. In the NHL it is normally only used with Goalies since an ATO can only be used for 1 day only. An ATO may only be used for 1 day for emergency with no pay or compensation for Skaters in accordance with Exhibit 17 of the NHL-NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). In practice teams always retain more than the maximum eighteen skaters who can be dressed on their NHL rosters, making it highly likely that any skater who becomes unavailable for a game on short notice can be replaced by another player who otherwise would have been a "healthy scratch."

For Goalies and Skaters the ATO may only be used according to the NHL-NHLPA CBA section 13-13(m)(ii), when Emergency conditions shall be established when the playing strength of the Loaning Club, by reason of incapacitating injury or illness or by League suspension to its Players is reduced below the level of two (2) goalkeepers, six (6) defensemen and twelve (12) forwards. Proof of the existence of the emergency conditions including the incapacity shall be furnished to the Commissioner of the League upon request made by him.

Every team in the League is required to maintain a list of emergency goaltenders who reside in their respective club's home market. These goaltenders can be signed when needed by either home or visiting teams.

Recent ATO's[edit]

On December 16, 2010, when the Phoenix Coyotes signed Tom Fenton to a one-game amateur contract.

Another use of an ATO was when the Minnesota Wild signed 51-year-old Paul Deutsch[5] on November 23, 2011.[6] Deutsch was signed because the Wild were unsure their minor league goalie, Matt Hackett, would arrive in time for the game. Deutsch wore number 33 and only participated in warm ups, as Hackett arrived just before the game started. Deutsch said the last time he played organized hockey was in 1978 as a defenseman on his junior varsity high school hockey team. He first played goalie at the age of 37 in a "beer league" in Minnesota.[7]

On March 28, 2012, Former University of Michigan goaltender Shawn Hunwick was signed to an ATO by the Columbus Blue Jackets after starting goaltender Steve Mason was injured during practice.[8]

On February 28, 2014, the Buffalo Sabres signed their former video scout Ryan Vinz to an ATO after starting goaltender Ryan Miller was traded before warm-ups.[9]

On February 15, 2016, the Arizona Coyotes signed emergency goalie Nathan Schoenfeld, the son of former Coyotes coach and New York Rangers senior vice president Jim Schoenfeld to an ATO after backup goaltender Anders Lindbäck was injured in an off-ice activity before warmups.[10]

On December 3, 2016, the Chicago Blackhawks signed emergency goalie Eric Semborski, a former Temple University club goalie to an ATO, after goalie Corey Crawford presented acute appendicitis, and underwent an appendectomy before a game in Philadelphia.

All of the goaltenders listed above served as backups to the team's remaining available goaltender, and none saw any NHL playing time.


  1. ^ "AHL-PHPA Collective Bargaining Agreement". 2010-09-01. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  2. ^ "Waivers 101:A Guide to the NHL Waiver Rules". 2009-11-26. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  3. ^ "Thrashers Prospect Annex: What is a PTO in the AHL". 2007-12-28. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  4. ^ "Flyers sign Guerin to PTO". Philadelphia Flyers. September 13, 2010. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  5. ^
  6. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  7. ^ "Coyotes Need Emergency Backup Goaltender for Thursday's Game at the New York Rangers". 2010-12-17. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  8. ^ "Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick will be in uniform against Red Wings Wednesday". 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2012-03-28. 
  9. ^ "NHL team forced to use former video scout as its backup goalie". 2014-02-28. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 
  10. ^ "Yotes Notes: Emergency Goalie Races to Arena to Replace Injured Lindback". 2016-02-15. Retrieved 2016-02-15.