When Justin Schultz scored at 13:17 of the second period to put the Edmonton Oilers ahead for good in their last game of the season, it came too late to help the Oilers make the playoffs, but it did cost them more than $2 million.
And given the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association’s debacle in voting Alex Ovechkin to both the first and second all-star teams, Taylor Hall is thanking his lucky stars for his two assists that game, the first of which came on Schultz’s game-winner in a 7-2 romp over the Vancouver Canucks on April 27, the last game of the regular season for both teams.
First the backstory. Every year, members of the PHWA vote on the winners of most of the year-end awards, along with the first and second all-star teams and the all-rookie team. This year, Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin was voted to the first all-star team as a right winger and the second team as a left winger. That happened because Ovechkin, who had been a left winger for his entire career until this season, made the switch to right wing four games in and stayed at that position for the rest of the season.
The problem is that Ovechkin is listed as a left winger in the NHL statistics and 45 PHWA writers voted for him as a left winger – 41 for the first team and four for the second. It can only be assumed those voters were not aware Ovechkin had changed positions, despite a mass email to all members of the PHWA from its executive informing them Ovechkin was to be considered a right winger.
Ovechkin being voted to the second all-star team, in turn, bumped Hall to third place on the ballot and cost him his spot. Which brings us back to the last game of the season. Had Hall been held pointless in that game, he would not have finished among the top 10 forwards in the league in assists, nor would he have finished in the top 10 in points per game.
That would have cost Hall dearly. In the entry-level contract he signed with the Oilers three years ago, Hall has a provision for performance bonus money that would see him get paid $2 million for being in the top five in Hart or Selke voting, in the top five in goals, a member of the first or second all-star team or for being in the top 10 in forwards in assists or the top 10 in points per game.
Hall managed to get his bonus by the skin of his teeth with the two assists, a bonus he would have missed out on had he not scored, because of the PHWA’s error. The bonus actually turned out to be $1.17 million because of the 48-game season. That amount is also subject to the 16.2 percent escrow payments, some of which the players are expected to receive back.
But it’s safe to say the mistake of the PHWA could have cost Hall somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million.
And Schultz? Well, that goal gave him eight on the season, which put him in the top 10 in goals among defensemen, which also paid him a performance bonus of $1.17 million.
Ken Campbell is the senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com with his column. To read more from Ken and THN's other stable of experts, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Ken on Twitter at @THNKenCampbell.