The Boston Pride made a splash recently when they re-signed their first player for the 2016-17 season, Jordan Smelker. Not only was it notable because Smelker was their first returning player to commit back to the Pride, but the signing also turned heads because of the pay check.
Smelker, a member of the USA National Team and a valuable addition to Hilary Knight’s line last season, took a $2,000 pay cut, meaning she’ll make just $14,000 this year (for context, the league minimum is $10,000).
The pay cut wasn’t deserved for Smelker, who finished third on the Pride in scoring with 19 points (9G, 10A), but it may be necessary as Boston looks to sign draftees like Kendall Coyne, who will likely earn close to the league maximum. For some, that could mean taking less, even if they don’t deserve it.
It’s almost guaranteed that Hickel will see a pay cut this season, even though she is a member of the national team. Probably, that status that earned her the $16,000 contract last year, but after scoring just three goals and four assists for a total of 7 points in 15 regular season games, it’s likely that number is going to take a steep drop, especially since teammate Jordan Smelker (9G, 10A) saw a $2,000 decrease in salary.
Hickel did show improvement during the playoffs, scoring four points (1G, 3A) in as many games, but also took a couple of ill-timed penalties during the series against the Beauts. On any other team, she could be a top-six forward, but on a stacked team like the Pride, any new contract is likely to be towards the lower end of the pay scale.
Like Smelker, Gagliardi doesn’t deserve a smaller paycheck, but it’s likely she’ll see last year’s salary of $16,000 take a hit in order to make some more cap space. On a team where Kacey Bellamy and Gigi Marvin were the most well-known names on the blue line, Gagliardi, along with teammate Blake Bolden, provided depth and a steadying presence on Boston’s back end that was one of the key reasons for their success this season.
Though she failed to find the back of the net this season, she assisted on six goals and had a significant impact that didn’t always show on the score sheet. She’s worth every penny of her contract, and she doesn’t deserve to drop any lower than $14,000.
Allow me to explain.
Bellamy doesn’t deserve a pay cut. None of the players on this list do, and Bellamy perhaps least of all. But there’s a few reasons why we might see her take a couple thousand less than she did this year.
First is that there’s only so much money you can take away from other players. Smelker lost two thousand, Gagliadi and Hickel may see pay cuts, but unless you want every non-national team player making $10,000, the money is going to have to come from somewhere else, too.
She was one of the three highest-paid members of the team, tied with Brianna Decker and Hilary Knight, who took home paychecks of $22,000 apiece. Decker was named the Isobel Cup MVP after burning up the regular season with 29 points and lighting up the playoffs with five goals and four assists in just four games.
Knight led the league in regular season scoring with 33 points in 17 games with an astounding five game-winning goals and has been the face of the league, giving interviews and doing press as the most visible member of the NWHL.
In comparison? Bellamy had a respectable 14 points in the regular season and was crucial for the blue line’s success. But if you had to cut someone’s salary…would it be Decker or Knight’s? Not likely. Which leaves Bellamy to take the fall.
When you have so many players making close to the league’s maximum salary, someone’s going to see a salary decrease, and in this case, it might be one of the Pride’s biggest stars.