NHL
May 11, 2020
BY Calvin McAlee

The Highest-Paid NHL Players in 2020

The top ten players in terms of salary in the NHL account for nearly $144 million. Once you read through this list you will notice some players who are earning more than what they are putting on the ice and even a player or two who are living up to their pricey contracts. 

A number of the teams that are doling out money to these top-paid players aren’t even in playoff contention as we are still in the coronavirus hiatus. Some teams even have multiple players on this list, including one team that has the three highest-paid players in the entire league.

This list includes just a player’s salary as part of their contract. No endorsements or other financial bonuses are included.

10. Seven Players Tied - $12 Million

There are seven players tied for 10th place in salary for the 2019-2020 NHL season, each making $12 million this year. John Carlson (Washington Capitals), Sebastian Aho (Carolina Hurricanes), Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay Lightning), Mikko Rantanen (Colorado Avalanche), Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings), Mark Stone (Vegas Golden Knights) and Jacob Trouba (New York Rangers) all round out the top 10 in salary.

9. Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars: $13 Million

Benn is a big part of one of the best defensive teams in the Dallas Stars, who have allowed just 177 goals in 69 games this season, second-fewest in the league. However, they have scored just 180 goals this season with only three teams having a lower total. Benn himself is on pace for his lowest point total in seven years and he has a plus-minus of -4.

On the plus side, Benn is having his best faceoff win percentage of his career and is on a pace for a career-high in hits. The second-highest-paid left wing in the NHL, Benn’s production is far off from Artemi Panarin, the league’s highest-paid left wing.

8. Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars: $13.5 Million

Tyler Seguin is making $13.5 million this season as part of his eight-year, $78.8 million contract extension that runs through the 2026-2027 season. Coming off of an 80-point season, Seguin has just 50 points in 69 games with a plus-minus of -2. As mentioned with Benn, the Stars offense is among the worst in the league with their defense saving their season.

The Stars are currently fifth in the Western Conference. With two of the 10 highest-paid players in the entire NHL, the Stars' high-value players need to step up if they want to make a run come playoff time. Defense alone won’t be enough against the league’s elite players.

6 (tied). Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers: $14 Million

Panarin is the highest-paid left wing in the NHL, and rightfully so. Panarin is third in the league in total points (95) and is one of the league’s best players in just his fifth NHL season.

The 2015-2016 NHL Rookie of the Year, Panarin signed a seven-year deal with the Rangers for $81.5 million. New York is currently two games back of the final Wild Card spot with Panarin being a big reason they are even in the hunt.

6 (tied). Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers: $14 Million

McDavid is considered the best player in the NHL. And for Edmonton to employ the top player in the league for a modest $14 million, it's an absolute steal for the Oilers. McDavid is under contract with the Oilers through the 2023 campaign.

McDavid is currently second in the league with 97 points. McDavid has scored 100+ points in every season of his career except for his first, which he played just 45 games. McDavid already has a number of individual awards under his belt, including a Hart Trophy.

However, the Oilers haven’t been able to give McDavid enough support to make any serious playoff runs. His teammate Leon Draisaitl leads the league with 110 points.

5. Erik Karlsson,  San Jose Sharks: $14.5 Million

Karlsson spent nine years in Ottawa before being dealt to the Sharks as a one-year rental. San Jose liked Karlsson so much they decided to sign him to an eight-year, $92 million contract. That deal made him the highest-paid defenseman in terms of per year average and the fourth-highest overall in the NHL.

This is Karlsson’s 11th year in the league and he is still just 29 years old. While Karlsson played just 53 games last season and has already missed over a dozen this season, locking up one of the best defenders in the league for the long-term was a win for the Sharks. 

4. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: $15 Million

Price is the league’s highest-paid goalie and it isn’t even close. The league’s next highest-paid goalie is Sergei Bobrovsky at $11.5 million.

Price has four shutouts on the season, just two behind the league leader. However, Price is an incredible 32nd in GAA and save percentage. The Canadiens are 12th in the Eastern Conference and their season is virtually over at this point. Considering this is one of Price’s worst statistical seasons of his career, the Canadiens are clearly overpaying in this spot.

3. John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs: $15.9 Million

Tavares signed a seven-year, $77 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs after spending nine seasons with the New York Islanders. The former No.1 overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, Tavares has a modest 60 points in 63 games this season after averaging 86 the previous two campaigns without missing a game. The production hasn’t dropped much for Tavares but his plus-minus this season is -7.

The Maple Leafs are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference and just one point ahead of being out of the playoffs. Considering that Tavares is the third-highest paid player in the league, a little more production would be nice.

Tavares is also just the third-highest paid player this season on the Maple Leafs (yes, you read that correctly), the Maple Leafs are performing well below expectations.

2. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs: $15.91 Million

Auston Matthews is likely the second-best player on this list behind Connor McDavid so it makes sense for him to be the second-highest-paid player if McDavid was first, but he isn’t. Matthews signed a five-year deal with Toronto when he was just 21 years old.

Matthews is ninth in the league in total points (80) and third in goals (47). Matthews is having the best season of his short four-year career so the Maple Leafs are getting their money’s worth from him alone. It is the rest of the Maple Leafs team that needs to step their game up to help this team get to the NHL playoffs and potentially the Stanley Cup Finals.

1. Mitchell Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs: $16 Million

Marner is the league’s highest-paid player for the 2019-2020 NHL season. His six-year, $65.4 million contract is a very front-loaded pact, which is why he is pocketing $16 million this season, nearly 25% of his entire contract.

Marner had 94 points last season in what was just his third year in the league. Marner played in all but five games in his first three NHL seasons. He has already missed 11 games this season. Despite this, Marner still has 67 points in 59 games.

While his contract as a whole might have been a good deal for both sides, he isn’t exactly living up to his $16 million paycheck this season. Considering the Maple Leafs may not even make the playoffs this season (and if they do will likely have to play Boston or Tampa Bay in the first round), having the three highest-paid players this season will make this season a huge disappointment.

Photo: Getty Images