In the sport of hockey, superstars are bound to earn a massive amount of money due to their hockey prowess and phenomenal on-ice performances. Many of the current NHL stars have experienced their big payday and are now working towards justifying the dollar amount on their paycheck. Others, however, have fully deserved their price tag and are continually working to bring extensive success to their respective NHL teams.
These following superstars boast tremendous skill and aptitude for hockey, and have worked hard towards contributing to numerous Stanley Cup playoff appearances and championships. Others have won multiple NHL awards and international tournaments, as well as having influenced the surge in popularity of their franchise.
Inevitably, some players are more deserving of their salaries than others. In this list, we will take a comprehensive look at the top 20 highest paid NHL players this season, and cover what they have accomplished to deserve their lucrative paycheck.
20 Jason Spezza - $7,500,000
The 33-year-old Dallas Stars centerman was originally drafted 2nd overall by the Senators in 2001, and after spending a few seasons alternating between the AHL and NHL, he solidified his spot with the Senators in the 2005-06 season. When he initially entered the NHL, he became an immediate force with his dominant offensive play. Gradually, he has become an effective two-way player who also helped lead the Senators to a Stanley Cup Finals berth in the 2006-07 season.
Spezza signed his four-year contract extension worth $30 million with the Stars in the fall of 2014. He got a raise of $500,000 after previously earning $7 million with the Senators. During his tenure in Ottawa, his best season came in 2007-08, a year removed from the Cup Finals, producing 92 points in 76 games. His creative play-making abilities also earned him the Senators' captaincy in 2013 and a 2015 World Championships gold medal.
19 Ryan Suter - $7,538,462 (TIE)
The 7th overall pick in the ridiculously talented 2003 draft is among the top elite defenseman in the big leagues and has dominated immensely on both ends of the ice. The tough, reliable 6'2 defenseman has had a successful career so far with both the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild. Playing alongside Shea Weber early on in his career, he was mentored well and has matured into an indomitable force on the back-end.
Suter signed his enormous 13-year contract worth $98 million with the Wild in the 2012 offseason. His AAV of $7.538 million is more than double that of his previous AAV of $3.5 million with the Predators. During his 12-year career, he has established himself as both an offensive force and a durable defender in his own zone.
18 Zach Parise - $7,538,462 (TIE)
As a current teammate of Ryan Suter's, he was originally drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the same 2003 draft, 10 selections after Suter. In the city of New Jersey, he quickly became a fan-favourite through his scoring abilities and impressive on-ice maturity. Developing rather quickly, he nearly doubled his offensive production from his rookie season to his sophomore season, as well as recording a career-high 45 goals and 94 points the following season. After inheriting the captaincy in 2011, he led the Devils all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose to the Los Angeles Kings.
The 32-year-old signed an identical 13-year-contract worth $98 million with Wild, along with Ryan Suter. They both carry an AAV of $7.538 million and don the "A" on their chest. Ever since his arrival in Minnesota, Parise has been the Wild's top leading forward.
17 Dustin Byfuglien - $7,600,000
As another draftee from the legendary 2003 draft, Dustin had to emerge from the shadows after being selected in the 8th round by the Chicago Blackhawks. Widely known for his size and strength, his 6'5 muscular physique has helped him become a dominant force in the NHL, as well as improving his on-ice mobility. His physicality has been a trademark of his for a long time now, which helped guide the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup victory in 2010.
Byfuglien then signed with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2011, which eventually became the current Winnipeg Jets. The 31-year-old defenseman, who once was a forward, possesses a blistering shot and isn't afraid to join the offensive rush. He has posted numerous 50-point campaigns, and has used his fierce spirit effectively to become the Jets' top defender.
16 Rick Nash - $7,800,000
The former 1st overall pick in the 2002 draft was originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he established himself as a power forward gifted with unique offensive abilities. In just his second season in the NHL, he amassed 41 goals, which was enough to earn him the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL's scoring champion. Due to his scoring prowess and exemplary leadership skills, he was named the Blue Jackets' captain in 2008.
The 32-year-old brawny winger signed a massive eight-year contract worth $62.4 million with Columbus, and was subsequently traded to the Rangers at the 2013 NHL draft. He became an immediate asset to the Rangers as they reached the Stanley Cup Finals in his second season there. His knack for shooting and scoring goals has earned him two Olympic gold medals and a 2007 World Championships gold medal with Canada.
15 Shea Weber - $7,857,143
The British Columbia native was originally drafted in the 2nd round by the Nashville Predators. He spent 11 seasons there, where he developed his all-round game and worked on making a name for himself. Weber is a hard-nosed defenseman who is tough on the puck and possesses one of the hardest shots in the NHL. He has consistently recorded over 40 points per season and has no trouble finding the back of net. His unremitting physicality attributes to his large 6'4 frame, which makes him a tough competitor.
The 31-year-old defenseman signed his monstrous 14-year contract while he was still captain in Nashville, and dominated there until his notorious trade to Montreal. Weber has excelled at virtually every level, which has earned him two Olympic gold medals, a World Championship gold medal and a 2016 World Cup gold medal, among other things.
14 Phil Kessel - $8,000,000
Dubbed "Phil the Thrill", he was originally drafted 5th overall by the Boston Bruins in 2006 where he played for three seasons, got traded to the Maple Leafs in 2009, and again to his current team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in 2015. The Wisconsin native is an on-ice sharpshooter, possessing a wicked shot and a knack for scoring goals. At the conclusion of his rookie season, he was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy for his successful battle with testicular cancer.
The 29-year-old right winger signed his eight-year contract worth $64 million while still playing for the Leafs. He has found immense success in his first season with the Penguins, eventually becoming a Stanley Cup Champion this past season. Up to this point, Kessel has hit the 80-point plateau two times, and is currently on pace for a record season.
13 Jakub Voracek - $8,250,000 (TIE)
The speedy and streaky winger was originally drafted 7th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2007. Notably, he scored his first NHL goal in his NHL debut. The Czech Republic native reached the 50-point plateau in his sophomore season, and has since easily eclipsed the 40-plus point plateau in each of the proceeding NHL seasons. His hockey smarts and scoring abilities have helped him establish a name for himself.
The 27-year-old winger signed a lengthy eight-year contract extension with the Flyers worth $66 million. His AAV of $8.25 million is certainly deserving after his tied fourth place finish in league scoring in the 2014-15 season. Although his production dipped the following season, the 2010 World Championships gold medalist is currently on pace to eclipse his personal record of 81 points.
12 Ryan Getzlaf - $8,250,000 (TIE)
The Saskatchewan native is yet another draftee of the exceptionally talented 2003 draft class. He was selected 19th overall by his current team, the Anaheim Ducks. Along with his formidable size, he possesses impeccable play-making skills. In the 2008-09 season, he posted a franchise record of 66 assists. As a youngster in just his second season in the NHL, he posted 17 points in 21 playoff games en route to his only Stanley Cup championship in 2007.
The 31-year-old centerman signed an eight-year contract extension worth $66 million in the spring of 2013. The Ducks forward has also played with Team Canada on numerous occasions and amassed several accolades, including two Olympic gold medals, a World Cup gold medal, and a World Championship silver medal. The current captain of the Ducks has achieved immense success and is showing no signs of slowing down.
11 Claude Giroux - $8,275,000
The fairly small and creative playmaker was drafted 22nd overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2006. He is known for his versatility and calmness with the puck. The highly talented forward has consistently led the Flyers' offense for the past couple of years and was subsequently named captain at the start of the 2012-13 season. Giroux also finished third in league scoring in the 2012 and 2014 seasons.
The 28-year-old centerman signed his eight-year contract extension worth $66.2 million with the Flyers in the 2013 offseason. Since 2011, he has been touted as the Flyers' first line center, and rightfully so. Among his accolades include a 2015 World Championship gold medal and a 2016 World Cup gold medal with Team Canada.
10 Henrik Lundqvist - $8,500,000 (TIE)
Possibly regarded as one of the greatest draft steals of all time, the sensational goaltender was selected in the 7th round by the New York Rangers back in 2000. Before moving to the NHL, he spent a couple of seasons in Sweden, winning two SHL championships and three consecutive Goalie of the Year awards. In his rookie season with the Rangers, he was selected to the NHL All-Rookie Team and eventually led Team Sweden to an improbable Olympic gold medal in 2006.
The 34-year-old goalie signed a massive seven-year contract extension worth $59.5 million with the Rangers, making him the highest paid goaltender in the NHL. It is certainly deserving after his years of dominance in the Rangers' crease. Lundqvist is often touted for his extraordinary athleticism and exceptional net coverage.
9 Steven Stamkos - $8,500,000 (TIE)
The superbly gifted centerman was selected 1st overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. In just his second season in the NHL, he displayed his outstanding hockey prowess and amassed 51 goals and 95 points. The following seasons, he continued his on-ice pre-eminence by posting 91 points and 97 points respectively. Because of his aptitude for scoring goals, he won the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2010 and 2012.
The 26-year-old centerman recently signed a lengthy eight-year contract extension with the Lightning this past offseason. Despite his recent struggles with injuries, he has still been able to achieve success with his contending Lightning team, including a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2015. Stamkos also won a 2016 World Cup gold medal with Canada.
8 Corey Perry - $8,625,000
As an aforementioned teammate of Ryan Getzlaf, the gritty yet talented right winger was also selected in the 2003 draft by the Anaheim Ducks at 28th overall. Perry is an unique combination of grit, speed and skill, often racking up high point totals and penalty minutes. The goal-scoring winger's career season came in 2010-11 when he posted 50 goals and 98 points, enough to earn him the Rocket Richard Trophy as well as the Hart Trophy.
The 31-year-old winger signed an eight-year contract extension worth $69 million with the Ducks soon after Getzlaf's re-signing. Perry has proved his superiority through his myriad of accolades, which boasts two Olympic gold medals, a World Championship gold medal, a 2007 Stanley Cup ring, a 2016 World Cup gold medal and a World Junior gold medal.
7 Sidney Crosby - $8,700,000
Nicknamed "The Next One", the extraordinarily talented centerman has been the face of the Penguins' franchise since his 1st overall selection in the 2005 Entry Draft. In his rookie season, he finished with an outstanding 102 points and was the runner-up for the Calder Trophy. The prized player followed up his successful rookie campaign with 120 points, earning him the Art Ross Trophy, Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Trophy. Crosby went on to amass five 100-plus point seasons, as well as a 50-plus goal season in 2009-10.
The 29-year-old centerman signed his prodigious 12-year contract extension worth $104.4 million with the Penguins in the 2012 offseason. He carries an AAV of $8.7 million, a tribute to his number and birthday. The exquisitely talented playmaker has captained the Penguins to two Stanley Cup victories in 2009 and 2016. Crosby has been and will continue to be amongst the greatest hockey players to ever play the game.
6 P.K. Subban - $9,000,000
The highly offensive scoring defenseman was originally drafted in the 2nd round by the Montreal Canadiens in 2007. There, he spent seven seasons with the club before his monumental trade to Nashville. As a junior, he won two World Junior gold medals with Team Canada before making it into the big leagues. His mobility, competitive spirit and puck-moving skills earned him a Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman in 2013.
Before moving to Nashville, the 27-year-old defenseman signed a massive eight-year contract worth $72 million in the summer of 2014. His best offensive season came in 2014-15 when he amassed 15 goals and 60 points, along with a plus/minus rating of +21. The flashy defenseman plays with an immensity of flare and is a fierce competitor.
5 Evgeni Malkin - $9,500,000
The remarkably gifted centerman was drafted 2nd overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2004. In his rookie season, he amassed a magnificent 85 points in 78 games, which was enough to earn him the Calder Trophy. Through his shot release and passing abilities, the dynamic forward has gained a reputation as one of the NHL's major superstars. In the seasons that followed, he recorded three subsequent 100-plus point seasons. 2009 was a career season for him; along with winning the Art Ross Trophy, he also became a Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe winner.
The 30-year-old forward signed a lucrative eight-year deal worth $76 million in the summer of 2013. The current assistant captain of the Penguins and two-time Stanley Cup champion has been an integral part of the team for years, and will continue to use his dazzling skill set to benefit the Penguins.
4 Alex Ovechkin - $9,538,462
Widely known for his immaculate scoring abilities, Ovechkin was originally drafted 1st overall by the Washington Capitals in 2004. The Russian superstar emerged into the NHL in the 2005-06 season, where he ended up winning the Calder Trophy because of his incredible 106-point rookie campaign. His ability to finish scoring opportunities is unmatched; the right-handed shooter is known for his famous one-timer from the left face-off circle.
The 31-year-old left-winger signed an enormous 13-year contract extension with the Capitals worth a whopping $124 million in 2008. Over the span of his career, he has won three Hart Trophies, three Ted Lindsay awards and six Rocket Richard Trophies. In terms of international success, he has won three World Championship gold medals with Russia.
3 Anze Kopitar - $10,000,000
The distinctly talented two-way forward was originally drafted 11th overall by his current team, the Los Angeles Kings, in 2005. His debut in 2006, a game that he scored two goals in, meant that he was the first Slovenian-born player to play in the NHL. He finished his successful rookie campaign with 20 goals and 61 points. Kopitar would go on to establish himself as an offensively and defensively sound player, winning the Selke Trophy and Lady Byng Trophy in 2016 as well as attending three NHL All-Star games.
The 29-year-old centerman recently signed a monstrous eight-year deal with the Kings worth $80 million in the beginning of 2016. The 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup champion and current caption of the Kings has definitely earned his paycheck through his world-class offensive instincts and pristine hockey sense.
2 Jonathan Toews - $10,500,000 (TIE)
The eminently accomplished two-way center was originally drafted 3rd overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2006. Before entering the NHL, he won two World Junior gold medal as well as a senior World Championship gold medal with Canada in 2007. Toews made his NHL debut in October of 2007, where he scored on his first shot and started the year with a 10-game point streak. The following season at the young age of 20, he was named the captain of the Blackhawks because of his tremendous leadership qualities.
The mature 28-year-old centerman signed an exceedingly lucrative eight-year contract extension with the Blackhawks worth $84 million in the summer of 2014. Possessing a lethal combination of size and skill, the elite forward has captained the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cup victories in 2010, 2013 and 2015, as well as a Conn Smythe Trophy.
1 Patrick Kane - $10,500,000 (TIE)
The supremely skillful offensive forward was drafted first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007. Entering in the NHL the same season as his fellow rookie Jonathan Toews, they fervently battled for the rookie scoring race, and at the season's end Kane emerged victorious, subsequently winning the Calder Trophy. In 2010, he scored the Cup-clinching goal and became a Stanley Cup champion with the Blackhawks. Kane has gained a reputation of possessing one of the deadliest shots in the NHL, as well as terrific vision.
The 28-year-old right winger signed an identical eight-year contract with the Blackhawks worth $84 million on the same day as Toews' signing. Together, the duo has established an invincible regime in Chicago, leading the team to three Stanley Cup championships. It is most fitting that the two famed teammates top our list of the highest paid NHL players.
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