TOP 6 NHL players with the biggest paycheck next season


  • Contracts with big annual signing bonuses have become common among top players in recent years.
  • There are several main advantages to this structure, according to one prominent hockey player agent.
  • Players get most of their money upfront, instead of spread out over the entire season.
  • In addition, contracts with big signing bonuses are deemed “buyout-proof.”
  • The current CBA calculates buyouts—where a team cuts a player to get out from part of his contract—by using two-thirds of the remaining salary owed, not including signing bonuses.
  • When compensation is heavily allocated towards a signing bonus, the salary cap relief is muted for a team.
  • The biggest reason for the signing bonus is the protection it provides the player in case of a lockout.
  • Many NHL insiders are concerned about a work stoppage ahead of the 2020-2021 season.
  • Expanding revenue, escrow payments and the Olympics are all issues dividing players and owners right now.
  • Signing bonuses get paid in full, even if games are cut from the season, which would reduce base salaries.

6. Artemi Panarin $14M

  • After a year-long episode in Columbus, during which it became abundantly clear Panarin was unlikely to remain in Ohio long-term,the 27-year-old has signed a seven-year, $81.5-million deal with the New York Rangers.

5. Connor McDavid $14M

  • Connor McDavid and the Oilers came to terms in 2017 on an eight-year, $100-million extension.
  • The contract came with a cap hit of $12.5 million.
  • The deal pays McDavid $86 million in signing bonuses.

4. Erik Karlsson $14,5M

  • The San Jose Sharks took a risk when they traded for elite defenceman Erik Karlsson knowing he had only one year left on his contract.
  • They sat patiently as he learned about the organization and area during an injury-plagued season and were rewarded when Karlsson decided not to hit the open market.
  • The Sharks then pounced and signed Karlsson to a $92 million, eight-year deal, turning a one-year rental into a long-term commitment to one of the league’s most dynamic defencemen.

3. Carey Price $15M

  • Carey Price never wanted to wear another hockey jersey other than Montreal’s red, white and blue.
  • The Montreal Canadiens signed Price to an eight-year contact extension that reportedly carries an annual cap hit of US$10.5 million.
  • That made him the highest-paid goaltender in hockey.
  • Price’s deal didn’t kick in until last season and won’t expire until the summer of 2026.

2. Auston Matthews $15,9M

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs signed centre Auston Matthews to a five-year contract extension earlier this season.
  • The deal is worth $58.17 million, meaning Matthews will have an annual salary cap hit of $11.634 million beginning in 2019-20 and running through the 2023-24 campaign.
  • This was a sigh of relief for the Maple Leafs fan base after it spent months collectively stressing over William Nylander’s contract holdout that ended on Dec. 1.
  • Matthews was eligible to sign an eight-year extension, however that would have complicated the team’s long-term salary cap outlook. T
  • his means Matthews can hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent by age 26

1. John Tavares $15,9M

  • After one of the most-watched courtships in NHL history, the Toronto Maple Leafs John Tavares as free agency opened, bringing an end to a saga that gripped hockey for the better part of seven days, and ramped up even further during the final 48 hours.
  • The deal was worth US$77 million over seven years, with an average annual value of $11 million against the salary cap.

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