While the best players in the NBA, NFL, and MLB make incredible sums of money, the NHL is a bit of a straggler when it comes to player salaries.
The league’s salary cap prevents teams from paying more than $US15 million per year to an individual player. In contrast, 29 out of 30 NBA teams have at least one player making that much money this season.
But even with its relatively restrictive spending limits, the NHL economy is robust, and $US100 million contracts are not unheard of. Below, check out our rundown of the NHL players who have the highest total salary on each team, ranked by their 2017-18 salaries. Contract data was obtained from Spotrac.
This post was originally published in December.
29 (tie). Evander Kane, Buffalo Sabres — $US6 million
Position: Left wing
Contract: 6 years, $US31.5 million
One thing to know: Kane was selected by the Atlanta Thrashers with the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft, signing a six-year extension ahead of the 2012-13 season. He was traded to the Sabres two years later.
29 (tie). Jeff Skinner and Jordan Staal, Carolina Hurricanes — $US6 million
Position: Left wing (Skinner) and center (Staal)
Contract: 6 years, $US34.4 million (Skinner) and 10 years, $US60 million (Staal)
One thing to know: In 2010, Skinner became the youngest player in league history to be named to an All-Star team, and he rode that promise to a six-year extension. Staal, one of four brothers who made it to the NHL, is regarded as one of the best defensive forwards in the game.
29 (tie). Erik Johnson and Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche — $US6 million
Position: Defenseman (Johnson) and left wing (Landeskog)
Contract: 7 years, $US42 million (Johnson) and 7 years, $US39 million (Landeskog)
One thing to know: Johnson, a former first overall pick, was traded from St. Louis to Colorado midway through the 2010-11 season and later agreed to an extension that will bring him to the back end of his career. Landeskog, a native of Sweden, won the Calder Trophy in 2012.
27 (tie). Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets — $US6.5 million
Contract: 4 years, $US29.7 million
One thing to know: Bobrovsky is one of the best goalies in the game, so $US6.5 million a year is a great bargain for the Blue Jackets. The native Siberian earned the second Vezina Trophy of his career in 2017, becoming the first player since Tim Thomas to win the award twice.
27 (tie). Travis Zajac, New Jersey Devils — $US6.5 million
Contract: 8 years, $US46 million
One thing to know: Zajac is the longest-tenured player on the Devils, arriving in New Jersey as a 21-year-old rookie back in 2006. But despite his impressive resume, this has been a trying season for him – after missing the first 17 games due to injury, he has recorded just two points in the last month.
26. Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames — $US6.8 million
Position: Left wing (Gaudreau) and defenseman (Giordano)
Contract: 6 years, $US40.5 million for each player
One thing to know: Gaudreau, a popular player and former Boston College Eagle, won the Lady Byng Trophy last season in recognition of his sportsmanship and conduct. Giordano has never gotten that kind of hardware, but he did finish eighth in the Norris Trophy voting for 2016-17.
23 (tie). Derek Stepan, Arizona Coyotes — $US7 million
Contract: 6 years, $US39 million
One thing to know: After spending the first seven years of his career with the Rangers, Stepan and goalie Antti Raanta were traded to the Coyotes for Anthony DeAngelo and a first-round pick. While he’s on pace for the lowest point total of his career, he has at least been durable, appearing in every game so far.
23 (tie). Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings — $US7 million
Contract: 12 years, $US73 million
One thing to know: The Red Wings have always been good to their tenured veterans, which explains why they signed Zetterberg to a 12-year contract as a 29-year-old back in 2009. The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner may be on the decline, but he still produces his share of highlight-reel moments.
23 (tie). David Clarkson, Vegas Golden Knights — $US7 million
Position: Right wing
Contract: 7 years, $US36.8 million
One thing to know: With three degenerative discs in his back, Clarkson may never play in the NHL again – his last appearance came with the Columbus Blue Jackets in March 2016. Over a year later, he was traded to the fledgling Golden Knights along with a pair of draft picks in a salary dump.
22. Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators — $US7.3 million
Position: Left wing
Contract: 7 years, $US50.8 million
One thing to know: Ryan, the second overall pick in the 2005 draft, was traded to the Senators for two players and a draft pick back in 2013, signing a healthy extension with the club two years later. So far, he has enjoyed a successful run, as Ottawa came within one game of making the Stanley Cup Final earlier this year.
19 (tie). David Krejci and Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins — $US7.5 million
Position: Center (Krejci) and goalie (Rask)
Contract: 6 years, $US43.5 million (Krejci) and 8 years, $US56 million (Rask)
One thing to know: Both Krejci and Rask debuted with the Bruins back in 2007, so the highest-paid players on the team are also two of the most experienced. With eight playoff berths, two Stanley Cup Final appearances, and one hard-won championship, they have enjoyed an eventful decade in Beantown.
19 (tie). Andrew Ladd, New York Islanders — $US7.5 million
Position: Left wing
Contract: 7 years, $US38.5 million
One thing to know: Ladd has won the Stanley Cup with two different teams: the Hurricanes and the Blackhawks. He signed with the Islanders as a free agent in the summer of 2016.
19 (tie). Paul Stastny, St. Louis Blues — $US7.5 million
Contract: 4 years, $US28 million
One thing to know: Stastny has hockey in his blood – his father Peter is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, while a brother and two uncles also enjoyed successful NHL careers. He spent two seasons at the University of Denver before being drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 2005.
16 (tie). Brent Burns and Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks — $US8 million
Position: Defenseman (Burns) and center (Thornton)
Contract: 8 years, $US64 million (Burns) and 1 year, $US8 million (Thornton)
One thing to know: After a number of close calls, Burns won his first Norris Trophy in 2017 after a 76-point season, the highest total of any defenseman. Thornton is a future Hall of Famer who recently signed a one-year deal to remain in San Jose, his home for the past 12 years.
16 (tie). Loui Eriksson, Vancouver Canucks — $US8 million
Position: Left wing
Contract: 6 years, $US36 million
One thing to know: Eriksson signed with Vancouver in the summer of 2016. The deal reunited him with Henrik and Daniel Sedin, two of his longtime teammates on the Swedish national team.
16 (tie). Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets — $US8 million
Contract: 5 years, $US38 million
One thing to know: Byfuglien is one of just four holdovers from the days of the Atlanta Thrashers, which preceded the Jets’ 2011 move to Manitoba. While he has yet to score a goal this year, he has recorded 15 assists.
15. Patrick Marleau, Toronto Maple Leafs — $US8.5 million
Position: Left wing
Contract: 3 years, $US18.8 million
One thing to know: Marleau is one of the NHL’s true iron men, appearing in at least 74 games in every year since 1997 (not counting the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season). He is the Sharks’ career leader in multiple categories, including games played and goals. He signed with Toronto over the offseason.
10 (tie). Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks — $US9 million
Contract: 8 years, $US66 million
One thing to know: Getzlaf, a veteran center with a strong defensive reputation, has been with the Ducks for his entire career. He has received Selke Trophy support in each of the past five seasons, but his closest call was a 10th-place finish in 2013-14.
10 (tie). Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers — $US9 million
Contract: 6 years, $US68 million
One thing to know: The Oilers took Draisaitl with the third overall pick in the 2014 draft. He holds the NHL record for most points in a season by a German player: 77 in 2016-17.
10 (tie). Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers — $US9 million
Contract: 8 years, $US60 million
One thing to know: On the heels of a 29-45-8 season, the Panthers took Ekblad with the first overall pick in the 2014 draft. While they haven’t been all that successful since then, losing in the first round of their only Stanley Cup Playoffs, they still rewarded their young defenseman with a hefty extension.
10 (tie). Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild — $US9 million
Position: Left wing (Parise) and defenseman (Suter)
Contract: 13 years, $US98 million for each player
One thing to know: Parise, a native Minnesotan, once stood among the best left wings in the game, but his career has been derailed by a series of injuries. He has yet to appear in a game this season. Suter, a fellow Midwesterner, is in his sixth year with the Wild.
10 (tie). Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers — $US9 million
Contract: 7 years, $US59.5 million
One thing to know: Lundqvist is the only goalie in the history of the NHL to record 10 30-win campaigns in his first 11 seasons. His deal with the Rangers will take him through the 2020-21 season, when he’ll be 38.
9. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning — $US9.5 million
Contract: 8 years, $US68 million
One thing to know: Stamkos was an incredibly prolific goal scorer in his younger years, twice leading the NHL in scores. With 45 points, he’s having another strong season in 2017, and the Lightning are off to a 24-7-2 start, the best record in the league.
7 (tie). Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers — $US10 million
Position: Right wing
Contract: 4 years, $US17 million
One thing to know: Voracek was traded from the Blue Jackets to the Flyers along with two draft picks in exchange for Jeff Carter, who played just 39 games for Columbus before being shipped to Los Angeles. The Czech has been a big part of some solid Philadelphia teams, and he currently leads the league in assists.
7 (tie). Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals — $US10 million
Position: Left wing (Ovechkin) and center (Kuznetsov)
Contract: 13 years, $US124 million (Ovechkin) and 8 years, $US62.4 million
One thing to know: These two form one of the most recognisable one-two punches in the NHL, though Ovechkin, with his six Richard Trophies, is obviously the more accomplished of the two. But despite nine postseason appearances in the past decade, the Stanley Cup has remained elusive.
6. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins — $US10.9 million
Contract: 12 years, $US104.4 million
One thing to know: While Ovechkin has put up season after spectacular season without winning the Stanley Cup, Crosby, his longtime rival, is a three-time champion. The seven-time All-Star is signed with Pittsburgh through the 2024-25 season.
5. P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators — $US11 million
Contract: 8 years, $US72 million
One thing to know: Subban has lost a step since his days with Montreal, but he remains one of the better defensemen in the NHL. The Predators inherited his cumbersome contract, which runs through the 2021-22 season.
4. Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens — $US12 million
Contract: 14 years, $US110 million
One thing to know: Weber and Subban were traded for each other back in 2016, making it a much-scrutinised exchange of talented defensemen. While Weber has finished in the top five in the Norris Trophy race on five occasions, he has yet to win the award.
2 (tie). Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars — $US13 million
Contract: 8 years, $US76 million
One thing to know: Benn led the league in points just three seasons ago, but this year, he sits in a tie for 35th. With seven years and a ton of money remaining on his deal beyond this season, the Stars had better hope he continues to produce as he approaches age 30.
2 (tie). Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings — $US13 million
Contract: 8 years, $US80 million
One thing to know: Kopitar has been with the Kings for his entire career, signing an eight-year extension ahead of the 2015-16 season. With a Selke Trophy and two Stanley Cup titles to his name, he has a lot of hardware to show for his time in Los Angeles.
1. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks — $US13.8 million
Position: Right wing (Kane) and center (Toews)
Contract: 8 years, $US84 million for both players
One thing to know: Kane and Toews are the highest-paid players in the NHL this year, each making just over $US1 million less than the maximum salary for an individual player. The three-time Stanley Cup winners signed identical contract extensions in the summer of 2014.
Now check out who tops each team in the NBA.
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