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An analysis of every NHL player earning at least $10 million this season


October 24, 2023

Ranking Every NHL Player Making at Least M This Season

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    Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid

    Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavidMichael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

    It's one of the great sports truths:

    With great bank comes great responsibility.

    Or something like that.

    As it relates to the NHL, the mantra focuses on 15 players raking in the biggest loads of cash this season as determined by cap hit—$10 million or more—for 2023-24.

    They're expected to be superstars, and thus are under gigantic microscopes.

    Some will make the price tags seem like bargains, while others will be the source of constant chatter within their respective fanbases and media circles.

    The B/R hockey team took a look at each of them with an aim toward a 15-to-1 ranking based primarily on the value of their deals going forward and their current levels of production.

    Take a look at what we came up with and drop a thought in the comments section.

15. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

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    MONTREAL, CANADA - APRIL 13:  Goaltender Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens smiles as he joins his teammates after a 5-4 loss against the Boston Bruins at Centre Bell on April 13, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  Carey Price has been sidelined due to an injury all season.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $10.5 million

    The Outlook: Based on past performance, Carey Price goes higher on this list.

    And it'd be perfectly warranted by the Hart, Vezina and Jennings trophies already on his mantel, not to mention the 49 career shutouts and a 2021 playoff run that would have yielded a Conn Smythe had his Montreal Canadiens defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    But it's not gone so well since.

    Price has played in just five NHL games after the post-finals handshake line that spring, thanks to myriad issues including a chronic knee injury that's for all intents and purposes already ended his career—though the final three seasons of an eight-year, $84 million contract will be written off as Long-Term Injured Reserve through the end of 2025-26.

    "I still get a tremendous amount of swelling in it," he told reporters of his knee in September.

    "For short periods of time, I can do things that are strenuous but the honest (truth) is right now, it's just not going to happen. To take the stress of the goaltending position—it's not where it needs to be."

14. Jonathan Huberdeau, Calgary Flames

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    DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 22: Jonathan Huberdeau #10 of the Calgary Flames watches the action from the bench against the Detroit Red Wings during the first period at Little Caesars Arena on October 22, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $10.5 million

    The Outlook: Brad Treliving looked like a genius in the summer of 2022 when he managed to get Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar from Florida in exchange for Matthew Tkachuk when Tkachuk made it clear he'd not stay in Calgary for the long haul.

    And he looked even smarter when he got Huberdeau, coming off a career-high 115 points in his final season with the Panthers, to quickly sign an eight-year, $84 million extension.

    These days...not so much.

    Huberdeau's initial season with the Flames could accurately be labeled as a disaster as he plummeted to just 55 points and the team missed the playoffs. And unless the four points he's produced in six games this season are soon doubled and tripled, the stench coming from this one will be even more difficult to ignore.

13. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers

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    SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 21: Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Florida Panthers warms up prior to the game against the Vancouver Canucks at the Amerant Bank Arena on October 21, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $10 million

    The Outlook: Truth told, the value of the seven-year, $70 million deal that Sergei Bobrovsky signed with the Florida Panthers depends on the time you examine it.

    During last season's 50 games, during which he posted a 3.01 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage, reviews would have been iffy at best. But a few weeks later when the Panthers were off and running on a playoff jaunt that got them into the Cup finals, his 2.78 and .915 in those same categories were verging on heroic.

    Because his numbers through the early going this season are again closer to last season's figures, it'll be no surprise when the Florida fanbase is clamoring for other options.

12. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 21: Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings skates on the ice during warm ups prior to his 1,297th career game and the most games played in LA Kings history prior to the game against the Boston Bruins at Crypto.com Arena on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gary A. Vasquez/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Gary A. Vasquez/NHLI via Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $10 million

    The Outlook: Let's face it, Anze Kopitar is not the player he was when he signed the eight-year, $80 million deal that expires at the end of this season.

    Back then, he wasn't long removed from helping the Los Angeles Kings to a pair of Stanley Cups, and he finished the season in which he inked the extension—2015-16—by adding both the Selke and Lady Byng trophies to an already crowded case.

    But that doesn't mean his value is nonexistent.

    He's added another one of each in the subsequent seasons and became the franchise's all-time leader in games played (1,297) last weekend. And even at 36, he's still logging better than 20 minutes per game and winning nearly 60 percent of his faceoffs.

    The cap hit drops to $7 million next season thanks to a team-friendlier extension he signed this summer and his presence will be vital if the Kings are to raise a third Cup by its end.

11. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings

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    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 21: Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings skates the puck against Johnny Beecher #19 of the Boston Bruins in the first period at Crypto.com Arena on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $11 million

    The Outlook: In reality, both Kopitar and his Los Angeles teammate on this list, veteran defenseman Drew Doughty, could have easily switched places.

    While neither is where he was upon signing his current deal—Doughty signed an eight-year, $88 million extension in July 2018—both remain integral veteran pieces on a resurgent team.

    Somehow still just 33, Doughty was selected second overall way back in 2008 and has spent a career supplying spark on both the offensive and defensive ends.

    He led the league in shots and was third in ice time on the way to winning a Norris Trophy in 2015-16, became the first blueliner in franchise history to reach 600 points last season, and played the 1,100th game of his career last weekend—making him just the 12th defenseman in league history to reach that number with one team.

    The three more seasons on the contract after this one may seem pricey by the time it ends, but if he and Kopitar are indeed skating with another Cup by then, it'll seem a bargain.

10. Mitchell Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    SUNRISE, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 19: Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates for possession against Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers at the Amerant Bank Arena on October 19, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $10.9 million

    The Outlook: The Toronto Maple Leafs are pushed to the upper limits of the salary cap these days, and given the fickle nature of a hockey-mad city, it wouldn't be hard to find bands of folks who'd be happy if Mitchell Marner and his significant cap hit were elsewhere.

    But savings or no savings, he'd be missed.

    The metro Toronto native is a sublimely gifted forward who's not only surpassed 90 points three times in seven NHL seasons, but done so while climbing the ranks of the league's two-way forwards with 104 takeaways and four short-handed goals last season on the way to a Selke Trophy nomination.

    He'll make just a shade beyond $10 million this season and next before his six-year deal runs out, leaving new GM Brad Treliving a particularly big decision to make.

9. Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers

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    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 21: Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers skates during the first period of a game against the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on October 21, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $11.6 million

    The Outlook: One thing's been constant about Artemi Panarin.

    Wherever he's played, he's produced.

    The Russian-born winger is perhaps the league's most decorated undrafted player, signing with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015 and producing 30 goals in his rookie season on the way to a Calder Trophy the following spring.

    A trade to Columbus after his second season kick-started a streak of six straight as a point-per-game performer, a run that also saw him move to Broadway in the summer of 2019 when he signed a seven-year, $81.5 million deal as a free agent.

    The contract runs for two more seasons after 2023-24, at which point Panarin will be 34 years old. How close the Rangers get to winning a Cup between now and then may determine whether he'll still fit into the New York salary structure.

8. Erik Karlsson, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 21: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) passes the puck forward during a regular season game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the St. Louis Blues on October 21 2023, at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis MO (Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $11.5 million

    The Outlook: There was no bigger story in the NHL last summer than where Erik Karlsson, coming off a historically productive season for a defenseman, would wind up.

    The San Jose Sharks were no longer a suitable place for a title-hungry player with a big salary to play, and it wound up being the Pittsburgh Penguins who stepped up to grab the big Swede with a trade that saw three players and a first-round pick head to California.

    It was a win-now declaration for the Penguins, with whom Karlsson automatically slid in as the highest-paid player on a roster chock full of Cup winners like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang.

    Karlsson and his $11.5 million will remain on the books for three more seasons after this one, but the four points and ice-time average beyond 25 minutes he's posted through five games seem a good enough sign in the meantime.

7. Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers

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    SUNRISE, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 21: Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers is greeted by fans on his way to the ice prior to the start of the game against the Vancouver Canucks at the Amerant Bank Arena on October 21, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $10 million

    The Outlook: If you're a hockey fan, you know all about Aleksander Barkov.

    He doesn't set scoresheets ablaze like some others in his tax bracket, but the 28-year-old Finn is among the league's top two-way forwards, as illustrated by a Selke Trophy in 2020-21 and three other placements among the top five vote-getters.

    He's scored 20 or more goals eight times and won nearly 55 percent of his faceoffs last season while averaging better than 21 minutes of ice time per game, followed by 16 points and a plus-five rating in 21 playoff games for the surprising Panthers.

    The eight-year, $80 million deal he signed just before the start of the 2021-22 season will carry through 2029-30 and allow him to add to the franchise-best he's already established with 614 points. And even though it won't come with a Hart Trophy or an MVP, it's a steal.

6. John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    TAMPA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 21: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks to pass in the first period during a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on October 21, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $11 million

    The Outlook: OK, folks. We can all stop looking.

    Turns out the Fountain of Youth is actually in Toronto.

    That at least seems to be the truth these days thanks to Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, who, at 32, is off to a better point-per-game start this season than any of the big-ticket players on this list.

    The seven-year, $77 million deal he signed to return home to Ontario in 2018 was greeted with raised eyebrows, but it's paid off on the stat sheet. His 157 goals since are in the league's top 20 and his 363 points are top-25 caliber as well.

5. Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights

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    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 21: Jack Eichel #9 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period at the United Center on October 21, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $10 million

    The Outlook: Though he barely squeaks onto this list thanks to a borderline cap hit, there's not a player in the league who's boosted his perceived value more over the last six months than the consolation prize second pick of the talent-heavy 2015 draft.

    The trade that sent Jack Eichel from Buffalo to Vegas paid off with a Stanley Cup for the Golden Knights in June after a playoff run in which the Massachusetts native produced 26 points in 22 games and outplayed the guy chosen one slot before him, Connor McDavid.

    Eichel's all-around ability and competitiveness were on full display through a tournament in which the Golden Knights went 16-6. They've continued into a follow-up season in which the team is a league-best 6-0, and he's already got six points.

4. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    TAMPA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 21: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks to pass in the first period during a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on October 21, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $11.6 million

    The Outlook: The Maple Leafs have three players on this list and it'd be hard to suggest they're happier with any of them than the guy who's scored more goals since his NHL debut at the outset of 2016-17 (305) than anyone else in that time frame.

    Yes, folks. Auston Matthews is the sniper of a new hockey generation.

    Picked first in the 2016 draft, the California-born winger hasn't netted fewer than 34 goals in any season he's played, and he topped out at 60 on the way to a Hart Trophy in 2022.

    The four-year, $53 million extension that kicks in next season will at least temporarily push him to the top of the league's pay scale, and it'll be money well spent if he maintains his scoring rate and mounts a challenge to whatever number Alex Ovechkin ultimately reaches.

3. David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 21: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins celebrates his goal with teammates during the first period against the Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gary A. Vasquez/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Gary A. Vasquez/NHLI via Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $11.3 million

    The Outlook: There's been a fair amount of transition in the Boston hockey air since the premature end of the Bruins' record-setting season last spring, but GM Don Sweeney was quite prescient in the move he made a month prior to the team's elimination.

    Getting David Pastrnak's name on an eight-year extension that'll pay him $90 million between now and 2031 guarantees TD Garden fans a front-row seat to the on-ice brilliance produced by the man simply known as "Pasta."

    His 61 goals and 113 points were tops in the league outside of Edmonton's video-game environment last season. His eight points in the first five games this season have helped Boston to a surprising (to those beyond the North End, at least) 5-0 start.

2. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

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    DENVER, COLORADO - OCTOBER 21: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates a goal against the Carolina Hurricanes at Ball Arena on October 21, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $12.6 million

    The Outlook: Here he is, everyone. The richest player in the NHL.

    The eight-year, $100.8 million extension that kicked in this season edges Nathan MacKinnon past Connor McDavid in terms of annual cap hit, but the most important comparison between the two players—at least to Colorado fans—is in the number of titles (one, to his rival's zero) he's delivered since arriving to the Avalanche two years before McDavid got to Edmonton.

    MacKinnon's been a point-per-game player for each of the last six seasons and the three goals and three assists he's produced for an unbeaten Colorado team five games in 2023-24 are ample evidence of his continued worth.

1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

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    EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 21: Edmonton Oilers Center Connor McDavid (97) in action in the first period of the Edmonton Oilers game versus the Winnipeg Jets on October 21, 2023 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, AB. (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Cap Hit: $12.5 million

    The Outlook: If it's actually possible to make an eight-year, $100 million contract look like a bargain, Connor McDavid has done it.

    Still just 26 years old, the No. 1 pick from 2015 quickly established himself as the best of the current NHL lot and trumped himself by consistently climbing to statistical heights exceeded only by the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and their ilk.

    He's got this season and two more under the deal signed by then-Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli in 2017 and all eyes will be turned toward northern Alberta to see if he'll stay beyond it.

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