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Are the NHL's 10 Highest-Paid Players Really Worth the Money?

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2017

Are the NHL's 10 Highest-Paid Players Really Worth the Money?

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    The NHL will have seven players making $10 million or more next season, and four of these players will be making this amount of money for the first time this year.

    There are seven forwards, three defensemen and no goaltenders among the 10 highest-paid players for next year.

    Are these players worth the insane salaries their teams are paying them? Let's look at the NHL's 10 highest-paid players and determine if they are worth the money.

     

    Note: All salary information courtesy of Capgeek.com

10) Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes

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    Age: 27

    Salary for 2012-13 Season: $8.5 million

    Position: Forward

     

    Eric Staal was included in my article on the 15 most overpaid NHL players heading into next season.

    He is still 27 years old, so there is no need for the Hurricanes to worry about his 70-point season last year, which is certainly below what the team expected from him.

    Is Staal worth the money? Well, as the cornerstone of the franchise, he certainly is.

9) Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

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    Age: 26

    Salary for 2012-13 Season: $9 million

    Position: Forward

     

    Alexander Ovechkin set a career low in points during the 2010-11 season with 85, which meant many fans were expecting a bounce-back year from one of the NHL's best players.

    Instead, Ovechkin set another new career scoring low last season with 65 points. His 38 goals were also the second-fewest single-season total of his career.

    It's safe to say that Ovechkin didn't come close to earning his whopping $9 million salary last season, which is what he will be paid until the 2014-15 season, when he is set to receive $10 million per season for the remainder of his contract.

    However, as the face of the Capitals franchise and the man responsible for the team's success post-lockout, he is worth the money.

8) Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Age: 26

    Salary for 2012-13 Season: $9 million

    Position: Forward

     

    Last season, Malkin earned every penny the Pittsburgh Penguins paid him by winning the Hart Trophy as the league MVP, the Art Ross Trophy as the league's scoring champion and the Ted Pearson trophy as the league's most outstanding player, as voted by the players.

    Since signing his five-year, $43 million extension, which started in the 2009-10 season, Malkin has averaged a remarkable 1.2 points per game. Expect him to receive another lucrative contract soon, because his current one expires after next year.

7) Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Age: 32

    Salary for 2012-13 Season: $10 million

    Position: Forward

     

    Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards are the oldest guys among the 10 highest-paid players in the league. Both are 32 years old.

    While Lecavalier's stats last season don't measure up to someone who made $10 million, his worth to the franchise extends beyond the ice.

    He is a fan favorite, and his affect on team merchandise and ticket sales is important to consider as well. Lecavalier also does great work in the Tampa Bay community.

    As captain of the team, one of the franchise's best players and a favorite in the community, Lecavalier is worth every penny to the Lightning. Small-market teams need stars like Vinny.

6) Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils

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    Age: 29

    Salary for 2012-13 Season: $11 million

    Position: Forward

     

    Ilya Kovalchuk had his best year as a New Jersey Devils player last season with 83 points (37 goals, 46 assists) in 78 games. The year before, he racked up just 60 points.

    Even though he played well, 83 points isn't good enough for a player making $11 million. After next year, Kovalchuk will make $11-plus million for the next four years. The contract doesn't expire until after the 2024-25 season.

    With Zach Parise gone, Kovalchuk is worth every penny because he is the team's only superstar player. He is also the Devils' best offensive player and is worthy of being named the team's next captain.

5) Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild

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    Age: 27

    Salary for 2012-13 Season: $12 million

    Position: Defenseman

     

    Ryan Suter will earn $2 million in salary next season and a signing bonus of $10 million for a total amount of $12 million.

    Since this is the first year of Suter's huge contract, we will have to wait and see how well he plays before it's fair to determine if he's worth $12 million.

    If he matches his 46 points from last season and gives the Minnesota Wild the No. 1 defenseman they are paying him to be, he will definitely be worth it.

    He also gives the Wild a superstar defenseman to market, which is something they have lacked for most of their franchise's history.

4) Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild

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    Age: 28

    Salary for 2012-13 Season: $12 million

    Position: Forward

     

    Just like Suter, Zach Parise will also earn $12 million next season, broken down into $2 million in salary and a $10 million signing bonus.

    For $12 million, Parise should be a point-per-game player on the Wild, especially when the team has some impressive offensive talent to surround him with.

    Parise will also help the Wild sell tickets and merchandise like Suter, which could be his real value to the team.

    We will have to wait and see if Parise is worth the massive amount of money that the Wild committed to him, but if ticket sales this summer (via CBS) are any indication, he's been worth the money thus far.

3) Tyler Myers, Buffalo Sabres

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    Age: 22

    Salary for 2012-13 Season: $12 million

    Position: Defenseman

     

    Tyler Myers will be the second-highest paid defenseman in the NHL next season. The Buffalo Sabres front-loaded his contract so he would be paid $18 million of the total $38.5 million in his contract extension that will go into effect this year.

    Obviously, he is not worth $12 million, but he will certainly be worth the $5-6 million salary he will earn in the final four years of the seven-year deal.

    Myers had 23 points last season, but could only play in 55 games because of injury.  If he continues to develop his remarkable talent and keeps getting stronger, Myers will be well worth his salary in the last four years of the deal.

2) Brad Richards, New York Rangers

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    Age: 32

    Salary for 2012-13 Season: $12 million

    Position: Forward

     

    Brad Richards will enter the second year of his nine-year contract with the Rangers next season. Even though he wasn't as strong offensively last season as he was in the two years prior to joining New York, his value to the Blueshirts goes well beyond the stats.

    His leadership and ability to be clutch is hugely important to the Rangers' success. He's also the first-line center that the Rangers desperately needed for years.

    The Rangers have front-loaded his contract, so he will earn $50 million of the total $60 million in his deal during the first five years of the deal.

    For most teams, Richards is not worth $12 million when he provides 60-75 points, leadership and clutch play. However, on a wealthy team like the Rangers, who need a player with the skills he provides for a Stanley Cup run, his large salary is well worth it.

1) Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

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    Age: 27

    Salary for 2012-13 Season: $14 million

    Position: Defenseman

     

    Shea Weber will earn a league-high $14 million next season. That includes $1 million in salary and a $13 million signing bonus. The 14-year contract begins this season, and it was crafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in an attempt to make it too expensive for the small-market Nashville Predators to match as an offer sheet.

    If you don't think Weber is worth every single penny to the Predators, read their press release announcing the franchise's decision to match the offer sheet.

    Here is one excerpt from the release that talks about the importance or keeping Weber long term:

    Most importantly was the reaction to whatever decision the organization reached and the impact it would have on our fans, sponsors and marketing partners. We wanted to insure that our decision reflected not just the feelings of these groups but also conveys a strong message to them that our actions would speak for us and demonstrate our commitment to them. It was absolutely essential that they understand and believe that we are doing everything possible to ice a Stanley Cup competing team each and every season.

    After losing Ryan Suter in free agency, Weber had the most value possible to the Predators. As the best defenseman in the league and the team's captain, Weber will fully earn his contract with Nashville by making an impact on the team's on- and off-ice success.

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