Top 10 Biggest NHL Defenseman Contracts

Top 10 Biggest NHL Defenseman Contracts

Defensemen play a crucial role in hockey: helping the goaltender keep the puck out of the net. The ten defensemen on this list do even more than that, getting involved in offense and enforcing their will physically on opponents. This list is the top ten biggest contracts signed by NHL defensemen.

What are the biggest NHL Defenseman Contracts of All Time?

  1. Shea Weber - $110,000,000
  2. Ryan Suter - $98,000,000
  3. Erik Karlsson - $92,000,000
  4. Drew Doughty - $88,000,000
  5. Seth Jones - $76,000,000
  6. Charles Mcavoy - $76,000,000
  7. Darnell Nurse - $74,000,000
  8. Roman Josi - $72,472,000
  9. P.K. Subban - $72,000,000
  10. Duncan Keith - $72,000,000

1. Shea Weber - $110,000,000

Shea Weber signed the biggest ever contract by an NHL player, on July 24th 2012, for $110 million over 14 years. The contract was actually initially offered by the Philadelphia Flyers, as an offer sheet to Weber. Weber, who was a restricted free agent at the time, accepted the offer from the Flyers.

Since Weber was an RFA, his team got a chance to match the deal: Nashville could either sign Weber to the exact contract Philadelphia had offered him, or take four consecutive first round picks as compensation for losing Weber. Nashville ultimately decided to retain Weber’s services, signing Weber to the biggest ever NHL contract. 

2. Ryan Suter - $98,000,000

Ryan Suter owns the second biggest defenseman contract in NHL history. Suter was drafted 7th overall by the Nashville Predators in 2003. He left the Preds in free agency, as Minnesota decided to break the bank: the Wild signed him to a 13 year, $98 million contract.

Suter played nine years of his 13 year contract, before being bought out on July 13th, 2021. Teammate Zach Parise was bought out on the same day, which is only fitting: Parise and Suter also signed identical 13-year contracts on the same day in 2012.

3. Erik Karlsson - $92,000,000

Erik Karlsson was drafted 15th overall by the Ottawa Senators, in 2008. He spent the bulk of his career with Ottawa, carrying them to Game 7 overtime in the conference finals in 2017; the Senators were just a goal away from a Stanley Cup Finals appearance. 

Karlsson signed his $92 million contract with the San Jose Sharks, shortly after being traded there. On September 13th, 2018, Karlsson was traded to the Sharks for Chris Tierney, Josh Norris, Rudolfs Balcers, Dylan Demelo, and multiple draft picks. Karlsson was extended by San Jose next summer, signing this humongous deal. 

4. Drew Doughty - $88,000,000

Drew Doughty was drafted 2nd overall in 2008. The deal that puts Doughty on this list was signed in June of 2018, which is worth $88 million over eight years, which was signed after his tenth season in the league.

Doughty won Stanley Cups with Los Angeles in 2012 and 2014, and won a Norris trophy as the league’s best defenseman in 2016. Doughty has struggled mightily since signing the contract, making many question the signing. 

5. Seth Jones - $76,000,000

Seth Jones is currently tied to an eight-year, $76 million contract. He was traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Chicago Blackhawks on July 23rd 2021, for a massive return. In exchange for the American defenseman and a 1st and 6th round pick from Columbus, the Blackhawks traded two first round picks, a second round pick, and a young defenseman that Chicago selected eighth overall in the 2018 entry draft. 

The trade has not aged well for Chicago, as they won just 28 of 82 games after trading for Jones. Since Chicago ranked so low in the standings, the 2022 1st round pick they traded away ended up being the number six overall pick.

6. Charles Mcavoy - $76,000,000

Charlie Mcavoy is one of the best young defenseman in the NHL right now, and he cashed in by signing this deal on October 15th, 2021. Mcavoy is set to earn $76 million over eight years, for an average of $9.5 million a season. 

Mcavoy played college hockey at Boston University, and was drafted 14th overall by the Bruins in 2016. He’s been reliable defensively in his first five NHL seasons, and had a career year scoring wise in 2021-22, notching 56 points. 

7. Darnell Nurse - $74,000,000

Darnell Nurse is currently on an eight-year, $74 million deal. The Oilers selected Darnell Nurse 7th overall in the 2013 NHL entry draft, just two years before they drafted McDavid. Nurse has been the top defenseman in Edmonton for a few years now, scoring 145 points in his previous four seasons leading up to the 2022-2023 season. 

Still, $74 million is a lot of money, and not all hockey fans are happy with the deal. Many believe the Oilers could have signed Nurse for less money, or let him walk and replaced him. 

8. Roman Josi - $72,472,000

In October of 2019, Josi and the Predators agreed to terms on an eight-year contract extension worth roughly $72.5 million. The deal features a cap hit just above $9 million. The only downside to this otherwise reasonable contract is the length: Josi will continue being paid more than $9 million a year until he is 38 years old. 

For now, the deal is very beneficial for Nashville: Josi has been one of the premier defenseman over the last few years. 

9. P.K. Subban - $72,000,000

Speaking of Nashville, P.K. Subban spent three seasons with the Preds from 2016-17 to 2018-19. He was tied to a deal worth $72 million over eight years. Subban was traded to Nashville in a famous blockbuster on June 29th, 2016. The deal exchanged P.K. Subban for Shea Weber, who is ranked number one on this list. 

Early on, most people believed Nashville had won the trade: Subban is four years younger, had a lower cap hit, and Nashville made it all the way to the Stanley Cup in their first season after the trade. However, Subban struggled to make things work in Nashville, and was eventually traded away to New Jersey in June of 2019. 

10. Duncan Keith - $72,000,000

Duncan Keith was selected 54th overall in the 2002 NHL entry draft, by the Chicago Blackhawks. Keith spent most of his career as a Blackhawk, winning Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013, and 2015. Keith earned the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP in 2015, and won the Norris Trophy for best defenseman in 2010 and 2014. 

Keith only ever signed three contracts in the NHL, including his entry-level deal. The third contract he signed was the one that earned him a spot on this list: a 13-year, $72 million contract. 

Honorable Mentions

  • Mikhail Sergachev
  • Miro Heiskanen
  • Adam Fox
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson
  • Brent Burns
  • John Carlson
  • Thomas Chabot
  • Dougie Hamilton
  • Victor Hedman
  • Alex Pietrangelo

FAQ

Who has the biggest NHL defenseman contract currently?

Shea Weber technically has the biggest active NHL defenseman contract at $110 million, although he will likely never play another NHL game. Weber is not retired, but has serious injuries that may even keep him from playing hockey ever again. Still, Weber’s contract is still considered active. If Weber retires, Erik Karlsson will take over as having the biggest active NHL contract.