Top 10 Biggest NHL Contracts

Top 10 Biggest NHL Contracts

NHL players don’t tend to make as much money as MLB, NFL, and NBA players, but they still receive massive compensation for their services. Recently, Nathan Mackinnon became the highest annually paid NHL player in history. Still, he only ranks third in the biggest all-time NHL contracts. Read on to see the full top 10!

What are the biggest NHL hockey contracts of all time?

  1. Shea Weber - $110,000,000
  2. Sidney Crosby - $104,400,000
  3. Nathan MacKinnon - $100,800,000
  4. Connor McDavid - $100,000,000
  5. Erik Karlsson - $92,000,000
  6. Drew Doughty - $88,000,000
  7. Patrick Kane - $84,000,000
  8. Jonathan Toews - $84,000,000
  9. Carey Price - $84,000,000
  10. Jonathan Huberdeau - $84,000,000

1. Shea Weber - $110,000,000

Shea Weber is the owner of the largest contract in NHL history. Weber signed the deal way back in 2012 as part of an offer sheet. An offer sheet, which is a rare type of contract in the NHL, occurs when another team makes an offer to a restricted free agent. Should the restricted free agent accept the offer, his team has the chance to match the offer. Nashville, Weber’s team at the time, decided to match the offer Philadelphia made, which was 14 years x $7.86 million dollars ($110,000,000 total).

2. Sidney Crosby - $104,400,000

Sidney Crosby is one of the most popular hockey players of all time. He is known for loving the number 87 (his birth year and jersey number), even when it comes to contracts. On July 1st, 2012, Crosby signed a 12-year, $8.7 million per year deal., Crosby could have bargained for more money, but he didn’t want to prohibit his team from being able to acquire supplemental talent, plus, he loved the number 87! 

Since signing the deal, Crosby has led his Penguins to two Stanley Cup victories, winning the Conn Smythe trophy for Playoff MVP in both playoff runs.

3. Nathan MacKinnon - $100,800,000

In September of 2022, Nathan MacKinnon signed an eight-year, $100,800,000 contract. MacKinnon’s deal carries the highest average annual value (AAV) in NHL history: $12.6 million. Connor McDavid previously held the highest AAV, with a $12.5 million yearly average. MacKinnon seemingly wanted to be the highest-paid player, while not taking up any more of his team’s cap space than he had to. MacKinnon signed the deal during the offseason, which followed Colorado’s Stanley Cup victory over Tampa Bay. 

4. Connor McDavid - $100,000,000

In July 2017, Connor McDavid became the highest-paid player in the NHL. The contract he signed was for $100 million over eight years. It was not the largest contract in NHL history, but it was the highest AAV in NHL history at the time: $12.5 million. 

The contract came after McDavid’s second year in the NHL. At the time, McDavid had scored 148 points in 127 career games. Just 20 years old, it was already clear McDavid would be a star: particularly in the eyes of Oilers’ GM Peter Chiarelli. The Oilers GM offered a big paycheck, and it paid off for the Oilers. 

5. Erik Karlsson - $92,000,000

Erik Karlsson’s eight-year, $92,000,000 contract is the first bad contract on this list. While Karlsson is a great player, it is commonly agreed upon that he has not lived up to the high salary the Sharks awarded him in June of 2019. 

Much of the disappointment regarding this contract has been due to health issues. Since signing the contract, Karlsson has missed 52 games due to injury out of 208 possible games as of the end of the 2021-2022 season. 

6. Drew Doughty - $88,000,000

Drew Doughty’s contract draws several comparisons to Erik Karlsson’s contract: both were large eight-year deals given to elite defensemen, and both contracts did not age particularly well. After signing the eight-year, $88,000,000 deal, Doughty experienced massive regression. The year leading up to Doughty signing the deal, he recorded 12.9 goals above replacement– an incredible feat. However, directly after signing his deal, Doughty posted a negative GAR of -2.1, meaning he performed below the level of a replacement player. 

7. Patrick Kane - $84,000,000

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews signed twin deals on the same day in 2014. Each of them was paid $84,000,000 over eight years, which breaks down to an average of $10.5 million per year. 

After signing the deal, Kane and Toews won their third Stanley Cup together, all of which came with the Chicago Blackhawks. Kane and Toews are considered Blackhawks legends, and that legacy has carried them well into the twilight years of their career. 

Patrick Kane has always been the more offensive of the two Blackhawks. Kane plays with a flair and can be known to make flashy plays. Kane’s nickname is “Showtime.”

8. Jonathan Toews - $84,000,000

Jonathan Toews is the other part of Chicago’s dynamic duo and has been Chicago’s captain since 2008. Toews was named captain directly after his rookie year in the NHL at 20 years and 79 days old. His contract is exactly the same as Kane’s, at $84 million for eight years.

Toews is often nicknamed “Captain Serious,” as he has always been a mature leader. Unlike Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews plays with less flair and offensive upside. However, Toews has always been a defensive expert and is certainly capable of scoring points, too.

9. Carey Price - $84,000,000

Carey Price is the only goaltender on this list. Price signed the deal with Montreal on July 2nd, 2017. The contract was for $84,000,000, split across eight seasons, just like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane’s contracts. 

Price is one of the best goaltenders of all time. Price ranks 17th all-time in save percentage, and 21st all-time in goaltender wins. Price won the Vezina and Hart Memorial trophies in 2014-15 for the best goaltender and most valuable player, respectively. Price came back from an injury in 2021 to lead his wild-card Canadiens all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. 

10. Jonathan Huberdeau - $84,000,000

Jonathan Huberdeau, drafted 3rd overall in 2011, is a prolific passer. He played with the Florida Panthers for all of his career until 2022 when he was traded in a blockbuster deal. The trade sent Huberdeau, and his teammate Mackenzie Weegar, to Calgary. 

After landing in Calgary, Huberdeau was signed to a massive contract: $10.5 million per year for 8 years. The deal will not kick in until the start of the 2023-24 NHL season. 

Honorable Mentions

  • Artemi Panarin
  • Anze Kopitar
  • Jack Eichel
  • Aleksander Barkov
  • Tyler Seguin
  • John Tavares
  • Matthew Tkachuk
  • Seth Jones
  • Brayden Point
  • Jamie Benn

FAQ

Who has the biggest NHL contract currently?

While Shea Weber’s deal has the most total money involved ($110 million), Nathan Mackinnon’s contract holds the highest AAV ($12.6 million). Mackinnon’s deal is $6 million less than Weber’s, but it is over the course of 8 years, whereas Weber’s is over the course of 14 years. Thus, while Weber’s deal is larger, Mackinnon’s pays more money on a yearly basis. 

What is the difference between salary and AAV?

In the NHL, players’ contracts are often structured in a way that sees them receive varying amounts of money each year. They also have an AAV number, which is calculated by dividing the salary by the number of years. Thus, the AAV doesn’t fluctuate over the course of a contract, but the actual salary they are paid does change. The AAV matters more to the team, while the salary matters more to the player. Think of the salary as the money being put into the player’s bank account because he plays that season. Alternatively, the AAV determines how much that player counts against the salary cap.