The NHL Gets Salary Right: Highest-Paid Hockey Players 2015-2016
Athletes make copious amounts of money for their time, talent and general sacrifice of their bodies. We’ve all accepted this as the way things go. However, sometimes the big pay day doesn’t seem to fit the situation. It isn’t uncommon for underperforming athletes to have outrageous contracts. Whether or not their dip in performance is the result of complacency or bad luck is unknown, but the disparity between salary and worthiness is undeniable.
The most guilty of this, of course, is in MLB, where baseball players like Ron Howard have nabbed record-breaking contracts and then forgot to show up. Sure, Howard is a former NL Rookie of the Year and MVP who went to two consecutive World Series, but ever since he scored the five-year $125 million contract in 2010, he’s looked like a much different player. He’s costing the Phillies money and wins, leading the team in strikes and batting a .229; he has a WAR of -0.5 and yet his 2015 base salary was $25 million.
Judging by the recent salary standings in the NHL, hockey doesn’t have a problem paying people what they’re worth. In fact, all of the players who have eight figure salaries in the 2015-2016 season are also some of the top players in their positions. Here are the top three highest-paid hockey players right now.
#1 Sidney Crosby
Whether it’s his skill or his looks, Sid the Kid is the most marketable player in the NHL. The Pittsburg Penguin captain has a base salary of $12 million but earns $4.5 million from endorsements off the ice, rounding him out at a cool $16.5. When Crosby finished his 600th game earlier this year, he had 825 points—that’s ninth all-time for first 600 games. All eight players ahead of him are in the hall of fame, including legends Wayne Gretsky (1,451) and Mario Lemieux (1,215). While those numbers seem outrageous, keep in mind 6th and 7th were mere hairs ahead of Crosby—Bryan Trottier (830) and Denis Savard (827).
#2 Jonathan Toews
Who is more deserving of a big pay day than a team captain and three-time Stanley Cup champion? The Blackhawks’ leader just started an $84 million contract this season. Although he makes more than Crosby with a $13.5 million base, his endorsement package isn’t quite as meaty at $2.2 million. This puts Toews at a $16 million total. He was instrumental to the team’s success this year—most notably scoring twice in Game 7 of the Wester Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks for a 4-0 second period lead. With a 5-3 final in that game, there’s no denying the playoffs could’ve looked a lot different without him.
#3 Patrick Kane
Kane had the NHL’s top-selling jersey last year. He was also the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft in 2007. The Chicago Blackhawks winger contributed greatly to his team’s success. He actually makes more than his captain with a $13.8 million salary base. That’s almost $2 million more than Sidney Crosby. However, Kane has a lighter endorsement portfolio, pushing $900,000.