Top 10 Biggest NHL Center Contracts
Centers are the core of a hockey team, anchoring every offensive line. Without good centermen, an offensive corps is doomed. What’s more, most of the all-time best hockey players have been centers: Wayne Gretzky, Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, etc. This piece features the top ten biggest contracts signed by NHL centers.
What Are the Biggest NHL Center Contracts of All Time?
1. Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby has earned the largest NHL contract ever by a centerman, signing a 12-year, $104.4 million deal in 2012. Crosby, who was the number one overall pick in 2005, has spent his whole career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Crosby won the Stanley Cup in his fourth year in the NHL, in 2008-2009. Crosby won the Cup two more times, in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. Crosby was honored with the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP in both 2016 and 2017.
2. Nathan MacKinnon
Nathan MacKinnon’s eight-year, $100.8 million contract carries the highest cap hit in NHL history: $12,600,000. Prior to this signing, Connor McDavid had the highest-ever cap hit at $12.5 million. MacKinnon signed his deal on September 20th, 2022.
This was months after MacKinnon and the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup, defeating the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. MacKinnon was a number-one overall pick, drafted in 2013 by Colorado. At just 27 years old, MacKinnon has a lot of hockey ahead of him.
3. Connor McDavid
Connor McDavid signed his $100 million contract on July 5th, 2017. The signing came after McDavid led the Oilers to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, eventually losing 2-1 in Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks. McDavid became the player with the highest cap hit when he signed this deal, at $12,500,000. However, he was recently one-upped by rival Nathan MacKinnon, whose new contract pays just a hair more than McDavid’s does. MacKinnon also beat McDavid in the 2022 Western Conference finals.
4. Jonathan Toews
Jonathan Toews signed an $84 million contract with the Blackhawks. He has spent his entire career with Chicago, who drafted him third overall in 2006. Toews has won three Stanley Cup titles with the Blackhawks, in 2010, 2013, and 2015. His latest contract was signed in 2014. At the time, both Toews and his superstar teammate, Patrick Kane, were up for new contracts. The organization awarded their dynamic duo with matching contracts, each worth $10.5 million AAV over eight years.
5. Anže Kopitar
Anže Kopitar signed an $80 million contract with the Kings. He has been with L.A. ever since they drafted him 11th overall in 2005. The Slovenian centerman was signed to his current deal in January of 2016, while he was in the midst of a 74-point season. Kopitar was named captain of the Kings during the following offseason, following some team struggles under previous captain Dustin Brown. The Kings won Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014, the franchise’s only championship titles.
6. Jack Eichel
Jack Eichel has a contract of $80 million over eight years. Eichel has often lived in the shadow of Connor McDavid ever since they were drafted one after another in 2015. McDavid was selected first by the Edmonton Oilers, while Eichel was drafted second by the Buffalo Sabers. Both players signed long-term deals, but only one stayed with their original organization.
Eichel’s contract was signed on October 3rd, 2017. The deal was eight years long, carrying a cap hit of $10 million per year. Unfortunately, Eichel and the Sabers struggled over the years to come. Eventually, the captain wanted out of town, and Eichel was traded to Las Vegas on November 4th, 2021.
7. Aleksander Barkov
Aleksander Barkov is the third and final center on this list who has a contract totaling $80 million. Barkov signed his deal in October of 2021. He was drafted second overall in 2013 and has spent his entire career with the Florida Panthers. Barkov’s best offensive season was 2018-2019, when he scored 96 points. Barkov is known as a lockdown defensive center, winning the Selke Award for best defensive forward in 2020-2021.
8. Tyler Seguin
Tyler Seguin has a $78 million contract with the Dallas Stars. He was drafted second overall by the Boston Bruins in 2010. Ironically, the player drafted before Seguin, Taylor Hall, is now on the Bruins, while Seguin is not. Seguin was traded to Dallas during the 2013 offseason in a massive six-player trade.
The trade surprised many, as Boston had just made the Stanley Cup finals in 2012-2013, and Seguin had played a decent role in getting there. Seguin signed his big deal with Dallas in 2018, locking him up for eight years at an annual average of $9.85 million.
9. John Tavares
John Tavares signed a $77 million contract spanning seven years. He was selected number-one overall in 2009 by the New York Islanders, and he stayed with them for a long time, helping them break their playoff series win drought in 2016. Tavares departed the Islanders via free agency in 2018, polarizing the hockey world.
Many Islanders fans were angry at Tavares for leaving, with others pointing out that Tavares had been a Maple Leafs fan (the team he chose to go to) from a young age. Either way, Tavares signed a seven-year, $77 million contract with Toronto in July of 2018. The deal seemed like a blessing for the Maple Leafs, but it has turned out to be a mixed bag. Tavares has struggled to live up to his large price tag, and some say he holds the Leafs back from being able to afford defensive talent.
10. Brayden Point
Brayden Point signed an eight-year, $76 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2021, making him the tenth player on our list. Point has played for the Lightning since they drafted him in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, and since then, he has proved invaluable as a center. With 218 career goals and 245 career assists, Point is an able offensive player, and this showed most effectively in 2020 and 2021, when he helped lead Tampa Bay to back-to-back Stanley Cup victories, which are two thirds of the Cups the franchise has won in its history.
Point’s eight-year contract, when it was signed on July 28th, 2021, came with a signing bonus of $44.5 million, $76 million in guaranteed salary, and an average yearly salary of $9.5 million. Under this contract, Point will be eligible to become a free agent in 2030, and has a salary cap hit of $9.5 million each year. No doubt, this contract reflects the high degree of confidence Tampa Bay has in their two-time Cup-winning center.
- Mathew Barzal - $73.2 million
- Dylan Larkin - $69.6 million
- Mike Richards - $69 million
- Steven Stamkos - $68 million
- Filip Forsberg - $68 million
- Bo Horvat - $68 million
- Mika Zibanejad - $68 million
- Leon Draisaitl - $68 million
- Nicklas Backstrom - $67 million
- Tim Stützle - $66.8 million
- Claude Giroux - $66.2 million
- Ryan Getzlaf - $66 million
- Tomas Hertl - $65.1 million
- Jordan Kyrou - $65 million
- Robert Thomas - $65 million
Who has the biggest NHL center contract of all time?
Sidney Crosby’s contract is both the biggest current contract for an NHL center and the biggest contract of all time. The $104.4 million deal comes in at $3.6 million larger than Nathan MacKinnon’s deal, which is the second biggest of all time. Focusing on cap hit, Nathan MacKinnon has the largest figure. MacKinnon’s cap hit is $12.6 million, whereas Crosby’s is about $8.7 million.