Here at Bet Station, we want to know who the highest paid NHL players are. Every year new players sign multi-year deals worth upwards of $100 million but, who is sitting at the top? This list will include all the highest paid hockey players in the NHL this season.
As with any list of the top earners, nothing is straightforward. For starters, you can’t compare the highest paid NHL players to any other sport. The highest paid NBA players make considerably more than hockey players, and that applies to the MLB and NFL too. This is not the place to get into the logistics, but the TV rights for hockey games are not as lucrative as the other big sports in America.
Another aspect to consider is how complex sports person’s contracts are. In the NHL, some players have small base salaries, but they get a large signing bonus every year of their current deal. Other players have large salaries, but they will have little or no bonuses or incentives. The fairest way to compare the best-paid hockey players is to look at the cap hits. We calculate cap hits by adding a player’s base salary and signing bonus together and then dividing them by the duration of a player’s contract. Although this may sound confusing but, once you read our list of the highest paid NHL players, everything will become clear.
5. Drew Doughty / John Tavares
There are two players with a cap hit of $11,000,000 according to Spotrac, Drew Doughty and John Tavares. If we look at the yearly earnings of the two players, Tavares earns $7.95 million and Doughty is making $11m. Drew has a current base salary of $7m with a $4m signing bonus, whereas John only makes $910,000 as his base and $7.04m as a signing bonus.
Doughty was the second overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft. He is a two-time Stanley Cup winner with five All-Star Game appearances. Doughty also won the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 2016 and made it to the 2009 NHL All-Rookie Team. In June 2018, Doughty signed an eight-year extension with the Los Angeles Kings worth $88 million. In his career, he has earned just shy of 100 million dollars from playing in the NHL. Once his current deal expires, Doughty will have made $143 million just by playing with the Kings.
Tavares was the first overall pick from the 2009 NHL Draft after a considerable amount of hype surrounding him the season before. He was born five days after the cutoff date for eligibility for the 2008 NHL Draft and was made to wait another year before making the draft. He signed with the Islanders in 2009 before joining the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2018 on a seven-year deal. Tavares has only earned $95m in his career so far and will only make $111m if he retires at the end of his current deal.
|Drew Doughty||John Tavares|
|Cap Hit:||$11,000,000||Cap Hit:||$11,000,000|
|Base Salary:||$7,000,000||Base Salary:||$910,000|
|Signing Bonus:||$4,000,000||Signing Bonus:||$7,040,000|
|Yearly Cash:||$11,000,000||Yearly Cash:||$7,950,000|
4. Erik Karlsson
Fourth on our list of the highest paid NHL players is Erik Karlsson. Karlsson began his NHL career in 2008 as he was the 15th overall pick in the NHL Draft. He is a two-time winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 2012 and 2015. Karlsson earned a reputation as a high-scoring defenceman, beating the Senator’s franchise record for most points in a season by a defenceman.
The Ottawa Senators traded Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks in 2018. He signed a big-money extension with the sharks in 2019. The deal was worth $92 million and would run for eight years. His contract is another where most of his pay comes from the signing bonus. This season, Karlsson’s salary was only $2 million, with a ten million dollar signing bonus. His cap hit for the rest of his current contract looks set at $11.5 million, ranking him as one of the top earners in the NHL.
At 32, Karlsson has already shown us what he is capable of on the ice; a solid defenceman with a habit of scoring goals and assists. His current deal will expire in 2027. Let’s hope he can avoid serious injuries and maybe end up in contention as one of the best NHL players of all time.
- Position: Defence
- Age: 32
- Cap Hit: $11,500,000
- Base Salary: $2,000,000
- Signing Bonus: $10,000,000
- Yearly Cash: $12,000,000
3. Auston Matthews
Auston Matthews is the third highest paid NHL player according to the cap hit. Matthews was the first pick in the 2016 NHL Draft by the Maple Leafs. He is yet another NHL player on a low salary but with a lucrative signing bonus. At 25, Matthews has already tasted some success. He has made it to the NHL All-Star Game on five occasions. Plus, he has won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy twice, the Hart Memorial Trophy once, and he won a Ted Lindsay Award in 2022.
In 2019, Matthews signed a five-year deal with the Leafs worth $58.2 million. His first two years of the deal saw his yearly cash run up to just under $16m a year. This year, he is making $750,000 from his base salary and $7.2m from his signing bonus. His cap hit is $11,640,250 for the duration of his contract, placing him third in the NHL. If we look at his career earnings, Matthews has made $53 million to date. Considering he is only 25, Matthews could be on track to becoming the highest earning NHL player in a couple of years’ time.
Leaf fans have endured a lot of criticism in recent times, but there is no doubt Matthews is an incredible talent. If they keep ahold of this future star man, he could help the franchise rise back to the top. However, if they plan on keeping him, there is no doubt they will have to pay him the big bucks. Whatever the future holds for this star man, he is certainly one to look out for.
- Position: Center
- Age: 25
- Cap Hit: $11,640,250
- Base Salary: $750,000
- Signing Bonus: $7,200,000
- Yearly Cash: $7,950,000
2. Artemi Panarin
Second place on our list of the highest paid NHL players is Artemi Panarin. He started his NHL career with Chicago Blackhawks in 2015 before getting traded to Columbus Blue Jackets in 2017. After two seasons with Columbus, Panarin signed a seven-year contract with the New York Rangers. He signed the deal in 2019 and it is worth $81.5 million.
Panarin plays as a left winger and has a fantastic point-scoring record. In his seven seasons in the NHL, he has one season where he scored below 60 points. His last season was his best yet, with 22 goals and 74 assists. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy and made it to the NHL All-Rookie Team in 2016. Panarin has two All-Star appearances and one selection for the NHL First All-Star Team in 2020.
Looking at his career earnings, Panarin has racked up $66 million so far. If he does not sign another contract after this one ends in 2026, he would have made $95 million in the NHL. His Average salary is just over $11.6 million and he is another player with a small base salary compared to his signing bonus.
- Position: Left wing
- Age: 30
- Cap Hit: $11,642,857
- Base Salary: $1,000,000
- Signing Bonus: $11,500,000
- Yearly Cash: $12,500,000
1. Connor McDavid
The highest paid NHL player this year is Connor McDavid. McDavid was the first pick in the 2015 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers. In his seven-year career, McDavid has established himself as one of the most prolific centers in the league. He has made five All-Star appearances and was included in the NHL All-Rookie Team in 2016. McDavid is also a four-time Art Ross Trophy winner, a three-time Ted Lindsay winner, and he won the Hart Memorial Trophy twice.
In 2017, the Oilers handed McDavid an eight-year extension worth $100 million. So far, McDavid has proved worth every penny as he has scored 697 points in 487 games. He has broken the 100 mark for points scored in four separate seasons, with the 21-22 season ending up with his highest tally of 123. There are several players in NHL history with scoring records like McDavid, so he is well on his way to making the list of the best hockey players of all time.
At 25, McDavid has already made $74,625,000 in his NHL career. When his deal expires, he will make over $105 million, and his best years are ahead of him. He has a base salary of $1 million with a signing bonus of $11m. Plus, with a cap hit of $12.5 million, he is the highest paid hockey player in the league.
- Position: Center
- Age: 25
- Cap Hit: $12,500,000
- Base Salary: $1,000,000
- Signing Bonus: $11,000,000
- Yearly Cash: $12,000,000
The highest paid NHL players this season include John Tavares, Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, Auston Matthews, Artemi Panarin, and Connor McDavid. As with every list at Bet Station, we will keep everything updated with the latest information. If you want to want more hockey content, you can check out our list of the worst hockey players ever or the best ice hockey fights.