Sports

The NHL Teams Paying Their Players the Most

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While hockey might only be America's eighth most popular sport, it still has a rabid and passionate fanbase. However, as one of the top four major professional league sports, the NHL ranks well salary-wise over other popular leagues, such as Major League Soccer and Women's Basketball. While hockey salaries might not quite hit men's basketball levels, it remains the best opportunity for hockey players to make a strong living. 

The reality is that while NBA teams pay hundreds of millions in salary, no NHL team surpasses a $100 million payroll. Only two teams are even above $90 million, but none of this takes away from the idea that hockey is a fast-paced sport that’s fun to watch and attend. With that in mind, let’s look at the NHL teams paying their players the most in descending order according to data gathered by Sportrac

Why Are We Covering This? 

Ice Hockey Rink Arena: Goalie against Forward Player who Does Slapshot, Shots Puck with Stick and Scores Goal. Forwarder against Goaltender.
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Hockey continues to be a sport, drawing more and more eyeballs every season.

Even though hockey and the NHL might not have NFL salaries and marketing strength, they’re still big business. Every bar and restaurant in America that had television watched the Stanley Cup this year as the Florida Panthers fought to win the NHL’s top prize. Hockey also brings millions of marketing dollars from brands we regularly cover, like Discover, Enterprise, and Adidas. 

15. Pittsburgh Penguins

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The Pittsburgh Penguins had one of the longest playoff streaks in hockey.
  • Total payroll: $79,196,605

Although the Pittsburgh Penguins hoped to make the playoffs for the 17th time in 18 seasons in 2024, it wasn’t meant to be. Unfortunately, one of the longest professional playoff spots tenure in pro sports was snapped this year after a 38-32-12 record by the team. Still, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang know how to win, so look for the Penguins to be back next year with harder play and a major drive to get back to the playoffs. 

14. New York Rangers

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The New York Rangers is one of the sport’s most popular franchises.
  • Total payroll: $79,389,024

One of the NHL’s most famous franchises, the New York Rangers, was everyone’s favorite team to play on the Sega Genesis during the 1990s. Fast-forward to today, and the Rangers' 9th season was somewhat disappointing, as the team lost in the first round of the playoffs. Still, the Rangers posted a 47-22-13 record, so no doubt this team knows how to win behind Jacob Trouba and Mika Zibanejad’s leadership. 

13. Seattle Kraken 

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The Seattle Kraken is the newest NHL team on this list.
  • Total payroll: $79,518,690

Only the third season for the Seattle Kraken, the 2023-2024 season resulted in a 12th-place Western Conference finish. Even though they were eliminated from playoff contention, the Seattle Kraken are not to be written off. Led by Jordan McCann, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Jordan Eberle, the Kraken are finding their way together, and it’s very possible the next few years could see the Kraken making deep playoff runs. 

12. Florida Panthers

2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game Seven
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The Florida Panthers are the most recent Stanley Cup champions.
  • Total payroll: $79,711,667

The 2023-2024 Stanley Cup winners, the Florida Panthers, now deserve far more than the 12th-highest pay in professional hockey. After going 52-24-6, the Panthers ended the season as the Eastern Conference Champion and Atlantic Division champions. The Panthers also had the highest stadium attendance in the team's history behind the incredible play of goalie Sergie Bobrovsky, Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov, and Aaron Ekblad. 

11. Dallas Stars 

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The Dallas Stars are looking for an even better season this year.
  • Total payroll: $80,813,334

The Dallas Stars more than earned their pay during the 2023-2024 season by finishing first in the Central Division and Western Conference. After defeating the defending Stanley Cup champion, the Vegas Golden Knights, the Dallas Stars lost to the Edmonton Oilers in the conference finals. However, it once again proved that Dallas, led by Wyatt Johnston, Jason Robertson, and Thomas Harley, is a force to be reckoned with in the Central Division. 

10. New Jersey Devils

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The New Jersey Devils must make the playoffs next season to justify their payroll.
  • Total payroll: $81,234,999

The New Jersey Devils' 50th season in the NHL saw them earn the 10th-highest salary in the league. Unfortunately, the team’s 38-39-5 record eliminated them from playoff contention, which also led to the firing of their head coach midway through the season. The good news is that the team still has Timo Meier, Nico Hischier, and Jesper Bratt to help form the core of a team looking for better luck next season. 

9. Tampa Bay Lightning

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The Tampa Bay Lightning know how to win big games.
  • Total payroll: $81,350,000

After being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Florida Panthers, the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t look like the team that had won the Stanley Cup two years prior. However, a 45-29-8 record was still good enough to more than warrant the Lightning at the ninth-highest payroll in the NHL. Behind the play of Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Steven Stamkos, the Lightning still have a strong core team that can rack up wins and a deeper playoff run next season. 

8. Ottawa Senators

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The Ottawa Senators need to snap their streak of missing the playoffs.
  • Total payroll: $82,374,047

Unfortunately for the Ottawa Senators, the eighth-highest payroll in the NHL wasn’t enough to stop their streak of seven straight seasons failing to make the playoffs. However, as this was the first season under new ownership, it’s very possible the team, led by Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stuetzle, Claude Giroux, and Thomas Chabot, could be competing for a playoff spot during the 2024-2025 season. 

7. Edmonton Oilers

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The Edmonton Oilers came within one game of the Stanley Cup trophy.
  • Total payroll: $83,887,500

Led by the outstanding play of Zach Hyman, Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Mattias Ekholm, the Edmonton Oilers came within minutes of winning the Stanley Cup. After falling behind the Florida Panthers three games to zero in the Stanley Cup finals, the Oilers clawed their way back to a seventh game. While Florida may have pulled out the win, it’s clear the Oilers have the right core of a team to make it back to the finals again next year. 

6. Colorado Avalanche

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The Colorado Avalanche have the best player in hockey on their lineup.
  • Total payroll: $84,108,750

Playing their 45th season in the NHL, the Colorado Avalanche currently have the 6th highest payroll in the NHL. After clinching a playoff berth, the team looked poised to win behind superstar center Nathan MacKinnon, who is widely seen as one of the NHL’s best players. The same can be said for defenseman Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen, who are also considered among some of the best players in the league. 

5. Vancouver Canucks

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There is no question the Vancouver Canucks are earning their payroll.
  • Total payroll: $86,937,500

As the Pacific Division champions in the 2023-2024 season, the Vancouver Canucks showed exactly why they deserve the 5th highest payroll in the NHL. Unfortunately, the Canucks faced the Edmonton Oilers in the second round of the playoffs and lost in seven games. However, the play of Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes, and J.T. Miller showed off why the Canucks deserve the high salaries they all earn. 

4. New York Islanders

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The New York Islanders will be looking to go beyond the first round in the playoffs next season.
  • Total payroll: $86,937,500

As the team with the fourth-highest payroll in hockey, the New York Islanders certainly hoped for something other than a first-round playoff loss as part of the 2023-2024 season. Thankfully, the team has plenty of talent, with Brock Nelson, Noah Dobson, and Mathew Barzal as the core. After replacing their head coach mid-season, the team hopes they have what it takes to return to the Stanley Cup promised land next year. 

3. Toronto Maple Leafs

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The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the oldest teams in the NHL.
  • Total payroll: $88,794,666

One of the oldest teams in the NHL, the Toronto Maple Leafs 2023 season was the 107th in the franchise’s history. Clinching a playoff spot for the 8th consecutive time is no easy task. Unfortunately, after finishing 5th in the Eastern Conference, the Maple Leafs lost to the Boston Bruins. However, the team has strong stars, with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and Illya Samsonov to return in 2024. 

2. Vegas Golden Knights

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The Vegas Golden Knights have already proven themselves as hockey’s newest expansion team.
  • Total payroll: $90,864,984

Fresh off winning the Stanley Cup in 2023, the Vegas Golden Knights are among the most successful teams in the NHL over the last few years. Founded in 2017 as an expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights have more than earned their second-highest payroll as part of the NHL. After finishing 1st in the Western Conference and losing in the Conference Finals, expect to see Vegas back with a vengeance in 2024. 

1. Washington Capitals

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The Washington Capitals have the highest payroll in the NHL.
  • Total payroll: $95,679, 166

Even after a 2023 season in which the Washington Capitals went 40-31-11 and finished 8th in the Eastern Conference, they remain the NHL’s highest-paid team. Led by names like Alexander Ovechkin, John Carlson, and Dylan Strome, the team has a strong group of talent. Unfortunately, being swept out of the playoffs by the New York Rangers wasn’t how the team saw its season ending.

 

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