NHL: Breaking Down the 10 Biggest Contracts for 2012-13

Shane Darrow@@Pilsbury_BroBoyAnalyst IIJuly 21, 2012

NHL: Breaking Down the 10 Biggest Contracts for 2012-13

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    With the incredible offer sheet that the Philadelphia Flyers extended to defenseman Shea Weber, which would have him receiving $110 million over the next 14 years, the payroll of individual NHL players is clearly on the rise.

    Weber's contract is heavily front-loaded; it will have Weber making $14 million next season and will make him the highest paid player in the league for the 2012-13 season. The Predators have until July 25th to decide whether or not they will match the offer, but that debate is for another time.

    Lets break down the 10 players that will be the biggest earners for the 2012-13 season. The source is CapGeek.com.

    Remember, this list pertains only to the amount of money received for the upcoming season.

Best of the Rest

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    Here are the players that just missed the cut:

    T-12. Stephen Stamkos (TBL), Christian Ehrhoff (BUF), Duncan Keith (CHI), Jason Spezza (OTT) - $8 million

    While it should be no surprise that Stamkos, Keith and Spezza are three of the highest paid players in the NHL, the fact that Christian Ehrhoff is on the same level might be a bit of a head scratcher.

    His 10-year, $40 million contract began last season, when he made $10 million. He missed 16 games due to injury, but still managed to put up a respectable 32 points. His contract is heavily front-loaded, but I am sure that Buffalo fans expect a little more than one point every other game for a guy who got paid over $150,000 for every game in which he dressed last season.

    11. Mike Richards (LAK) - $8.4 million

    Richards will be in the fifth year of his 12-year, $69 million contract that began during the 2008-09 season when he was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. The $8.4 million he is set to make next season is the most in any year on the contract, and he will be expected to be another piece of the Los Angeles Kings puzzle that just won the Stanley Cup.

    He only had 44 points in 74 games during the regular season, but his 15 points in the playoffs are what make him worth the money.

Eric Staal (CAR): $8.5 Million

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    The captain of the Carolina Hurricanes will be the 10th highest-paid player next season, and he will be able to enjoy the company of his younger brother, Jordan Staal, who was acquired in a trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this offseason.

    Staal has more than established himself as one of the best players in the NHL. He won the Stanley Cup in 2005-06 with Carolina, and has been named to the NHL All-Star team four times.

    Over the last seven seasons with the Canes, Staal has averaged 78 points per season, and is definitely deserving of the amount on his paycheck.

Alexander Ovechkin (WSH): $9 Million

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    Alex Ovechkin was supposed to be one of the biggest superstars in the NHL after he wasted no time in showing his offensive talents in his first few years in the league—and in some minds he is.

    He won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's MVP in 2008 after leading the NHL with 65 goals and 112 points. He followed that season with 110 points in 2008-09, and 108 points during the 2009-10 campaign.

    To say that he has fallen off the last couple of years would not be stretching the truth. His 65 points last season were substantially less than he scored during any other year in the league, and he has yet to lead the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup Finals.

    While his numbers have slipped over the last two seasons, Ovechkin is still one of the premier talents in the NHL and deserves to be paid like it.

Evgeni Malkin (PIT): $9 Million

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins were able to reach a contract extension with superstar Sidney Crosby this offseason that will begin in 2013-14. Their first move next offseason will more than likely be trying to reach a similar deal with Evgeni Malkin, considering his 5-year, $43.5 million contract expires after the 2013-14 season. 

    Last season, while Crosby was limited to just 22 games from post-concussion syndromes, Malkin exploded for 109 points on his way to winning the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player.

    Malkin, without a doubt, is worth the $9 million he will receive next season, and it will be interesting to see how his contract situation works out in the future.

Vincent Lecavalier (TBL): $10 Million

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    The 32-year-old is in the middle of a 10-year contract worth $85 million, and while he is still a great player, it is hard to make an argument that he is deserving of that much money. He is far from the guy that posted 108 points during the 2006-07 season.

    To think that he is ahead of names like Crosby, Malkin, Giroux, Nash, Zetterberg, Hossa and Gaborik just doesn't seem right.

    While his season was shortened by injury, his 49 points didn't even place him in the Top 100 in the NHL, and he posted a negative plus/minus rating for the fifth consecutive season. I know you can't place statistics on veteran leadership, but $10 million is far too steep for Lecavalier.

Ilya Kovalchuk (NJD): $11 Million

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    Kovalchuk signed the largest contract in NHL history at the time by agreeing to terms that would give him $100 million over a 15-year span. Next season, he will begin the meaty part of his contract, as he will make at least $10 million for the next six years.

    After only a 60-point season two years ago, Kovalchuk bounced back by putting up 83 points last season, which was the fifth highest total in the NHL.

    Many were shocked when they heard the original terms of his contract, but now that Zach Parise is gone, Kovalchuk should step into the leadership role that will make him worth the $11 million he is set to make next season.

Ryan Suter / Zach Parise (MIN): $12 Million

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    Considering the fact that all the rave lately has been about Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the most sought-after free agents this offseason, signing identical contracts with the Minnesota Wild, why not put them together on the same slide?

    I'm going to make this short and sweet. Neither of these guys is worth the kind of money that Minnesota is paying them, and the Wild are still far from being a team that will contend for the Stanley Cup. They are much improved and will be a good team, but good teams don't win it all.

Tyler Myers (BUF): $12 Million

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    You probably weren't expecting that name this high, were you?

    If you include the signing bonus, Tyler Myers will make $12 million dollars next season.

    I'll repeat that.

    Tyler Myers is making $12 million next season. I'm not including signing bonuses, so he'll have to settle for being the second highest-paid player in the NHL.

    The fact of the matter is that Myers is only 22 years old, and, in the long run, his 7-year, $38.5 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres is going to be well worth it. But it is going to be tough for him to be good enough to earn the $12 million he'll make this season.

    However, his cap hit remains the same throughout the contract, at $5.5 million, so I'm going to say he is worth it.

Brad Richards (NYR): $12 Million

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    Brad Richards was a huge reason why the New York Rangers earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season, and he will continue to be a very important dynamic to their offense until his contract expires in 2020, which will more than likely be around the time he retires.

    His 66 points last season might not seem to warrant the $12 million dollars he received, but Richards is a guy that brings so much more to the table than statistics. He is a great veteran leader, and is one of the best two-way players in the game today.

    While Marian Gaborik might be a more exciting player in the offensive end, Richards is solid in every aspect of the game on and off the ice, and deserves his hefty contract.

Shea Weber (PHI/NSH): $14 Million

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    Poor Shea. He lost his fellow defensive star in Ryan Suter and now has to make the decision whether to leave Nashville (where he has played his entire career) for Philly, or to stay a Predator and try to lead them back to the playoffs.

    Oh wait, he is making $14 million next season no matter what? Never mind what I said earlier.

    Shea Weber is going to be the highest paid player next season regardless of what color he is wearing, and whoever gets him is forking over the right amount of money.

    Even though Erik Karlsson won the Norris Trophy last year as the NHL's top defenseman, a legitimate argument can be made that Weber is the most complete defenseman in the game.

    It might seem a stretch that he is the highest paid player in the entire NHL, but big, solid defensemen on both ends of the ice are not half as common as goal-scoring forwards.