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NHL Players

The National Hockey League (NHL) is one of the biggest sporting organizations in the world. Recently, its revenues have been forecast to hit $5bn, and further growth is on the horizon.

With so much money streaming into the league, it’s only natural for players’ salaries to increase as teams invest more in their efforts to reach the top.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the NHL payroll of some of the top teams in the league, and explore whether a higher spend actually delivers success.

What’s the average wage bill in the NHL?
Before we dive into the spending of individual teams, it’s helpful to have an idea of what the average wage bill is across the NHL.

The NHL operates a cap-based system – this means that the league sets the maximum spend on salary. This is usually updated annually, or every few years.

For example, for the 2021-22 season, the wage cap has been increased by $1m, taking the new ceiling to $82.5m. The league also sets a minimum salary, which is $700,000. There’s also a rule that an individual player’s salary cannot exceed 20% of the maximum limit. This means the highest potential salary available is around $16m.

So what’s the average? Based on information gathered from 906 signings, the average salary is around $2.5m for the 2020-21 season. The highest-paid player is Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, with a salary of $15.9m.

Matthews and Toronto are doing well this season, currently sitting in third place in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference and unbeaten in the last 10 games. With plenty of games left to play, the odds of them clinching the title could be worth taking a look at. If you enjoy placing a bet on the NHL, check out for competitive odds, bonuses and offers.

Toronto Maple Leafs
As one of the big hitters in the league, the Maple Leafs have a pretty hefty wage bill. They currently have an annual spend of $81,158,116 with a roster size of 21 out of a possible 23.

The reason for this slightly smaller roster is down to some major signings that eat up a lot of the budget.

Auston Matthews, as mentioned earlier, has a significant salary that consumes 14.3% of the overall payroll for the year.

John Tavares and Mitch Marner both earn around the 13.5% mark. So, on just three players, the Maple Leafs are spending around 41% of their overall budget.

Such a salary structure can be risky. It can create an imbalance in the squad, leaving some areas weaker and exposed. And if anything happens to these marquee players, they could be spending a lot with no return.

On the flip side, these star players can make a crucial difference and give the Maple Leafs the edge.

Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights are another team in the NHL with a significant payroll. They’ve maxed out their cap for the current season on a roster of 22 players out of an available 23.

Unlike the Maple Leafs, the Knights have a fairly even spread salary-wise. Their highest-paid player is Jack Eichel, who takes up 12.3% of the cap. Mark Stone is just behind on 11.7% of the cap. Others on big salaries include Max Pacioretty, who takes up 8.6% of the payroll, with William Karlsson just behind him on 7.2%.

Both of the Knights’ highest-paid players, Eichel and Stone, are suffering from long-term injuries. Despite this, their more balanced strategy seems to be working – the Knights are sitting in second place in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference.

Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning are flying high this season, currently in first position in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.

With a pretty high cap spend, they have just $100,000 to play around with. Like the Knights, they have 22 players registered on the roster.

While they have a few well-paid players, there are no standout earners like with the Maple Leafs. Forward Nikita Kucherov and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy are the highest-paid players, with a share of 11.7% of the overall cap. Steven Stamkos is in third place with a share of 10.4%, and defender Victor Hedman is close behind him, at 9.7%. This strategy of a more even spread seems to be working well for Tampa.

Photo Credit: Daniel Hartwig