On Monday, Major League Baseball’s Giancarlo Stanton signed the richest contract in North American sports history. At 13-years and $325 million, the Miami Marlins outfielder stands to make more money than the average Canadian or American could earn in one hundred lifetimes.
In fact, here’s how it breaks down. Those earning the average 2014 income in Canada (USD$42,719) and USA ($51,371) would have to spend 7,608 and 6,327 years in the workforce, respectively, in order to match Stanton’s monster deal. Something tells me that might be unattainable.
There was a time – around the formation of the World Hockey Association – when Bobby Hull and the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets made waves with a $1 million dollar signing bonus. And in 1998-99, Sergei Fedorov made $14.5 million, the most ever at the time, which was more than the entire Nashville Predators roster made – combined. The days of both these contracts are long gone. These are the most lucrative contracts in the history of the NHL, all coming during the salary cap era.
10. P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens – 8 years, $72 million
Subban and Chicago Blackhawks blueliner Duncan Keith will actually make the same amount over the course of their current deals. The difference, however, is the term. While Keith makes his millions over 13 seasons, Subban’s deal came to be during the term-limit days of the salary cap, stopping his contract at the maximum of eight seasons. While it’s hard to believe, Subban’s career is still on the rise. Based on annual salary, Subban is the league’s highest pair rearguard.
9. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings – 12 years, $73 million
The successor to Nicklas Lidstrom as Red Wings captain, Zetterberg was paid handsomely for his Conn Smythe-worthy effort in helping Detroit hoist the Stanley Cup in 2007-08. His 92 points were a career high that season, and, with one year left on his deal with Detroit in 2008-09, he signed the most lucrative contract in Red Wings history when he inked his 12-year, $73 million deal. He would lead Detroit back to the Stanley Cup Final, falling in seven games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The deal will keep Zetterberg with the Red Wings until he is 40.
8. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins – 8 years, $76 million
Malkin’s contract is one of the most interesting on the list. Not because of the money he makes as an average cap hit, but because of the strange way the signing bonuses are structured. Malkin, one of the game’s premier stars, will make $9.5 million for each of the eight seasons he’s in Pittsburgh, but will make $5 million of the deal as a signing bonus – in each of the last two seasons. To go along with the 2012 Ted Lindsay Award, Malking has also won the Hart, Art Ross, Calder Trophy, and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy in Pittsburgh’s 2008-09 Stanley Cup victory, the first Russian player to ever win the award.
7. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks – 8 years, $84 million
Kane has done his part to earn the monster deal, one that will see him become half of the highest paid duo in the NHL at $13.8 million for a single 82-game season. The contract signed during the off-season and kicking in at the beginning of 2015-16 will see the dynamic forward and 2013 Conn Smythe Trophy winner play in the Windy City until he’s at least 33.
6. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks – 8 years, $84 million
And you can’t have Kane without mention of Toews. The Blackhawks captain and his shifty ‘Showtime’ friend signed matching deals that were announced at the same time. Like Kane, Toews has also been the catalyst for a Stanley Cup in Chicago, powering the Blackhawks to the 2013 title in a lockout-shortened season. He also won the 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy for his play in ending Chicago's cup drought. The contract, like Kane’s, will end in 2022-23.
5. Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild – 13 years, $98 million
Signed leading up to the 2012-13 season, Parise’s deal was considered one of the two that broke the camel’s back when it came to big money, long-term, back-diving contracts. His deal in Minnesota locks him up until he’s 40 years old and has a no-movement clause. If Parise is going anywhere, he’ll either have to be bought out or really want to leave and it’s hard to imagine either scenario. His contract came on the heels of a down season, but one that saw Parise help the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup Final before their eventual defeat to the Los Angeles Kings.
4. Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild – 13 years, $98 million
The other half of those deals that frustrated the NHL so very much, Suter came to Minnesota after a steady start to his career in Nashville. Since moving to the State of Hockey, however, Suter has been an absolute monster. Suffice to say, Minnesota has gotten their money’s worth, playing the defenseman nearly half of each game. At this point, it’s shocking he hasn’t hit the 40-minute mark during a 60-minute regular season game. The thing is, Suter never seems to tire. While it may have been a thorn in the sides of other GMs in the league, the move to bring Suter into the fold by Wild GM Chuck Fletcher, even long-term and at a lot of money, was brilliant.
3. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins – 12 years, $104.4 million
Is there even any arguing that Crosby is the greatest player in the league anymore? His scoring pace before being sidelined with concussion issues in 2012-13 was one for the ages, as Crosby put up 56 points in 36 games. He followed that up by picking up where he left off, potting 36 goals and 104 points in 80 games in 2013-14. Crosby will, and should be, a career Penguin. His $8.7 million cap hit is a nice touch, but it’s hard not to believe Crosby probably left a bit of money on the table. He’ll be nearly 37 by the time the contract expires, so this will likely be his last huge NHL deal.
2. Shea Weber, Nashville Predators – 14 years, $110 million
In a way, this contract was one between Weber and the Philadelphia Flyers. During the 2012-13 off-season with both Weber and Suter as free agents, the Predators hands were tied. Then Flyers GM Paul Holmgren made a move on Weber, inking him to an unheard of $14-year, $110 million offer sheet, but Nashville barely waited a beat before swooping in and matching the deal. Losing Suter was big for Nashville, and they couldn’t afford to lose Weber, as well. Who knows where the Predators would be right now if they had chosen to take the four first-round draft picks instead.
1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals – 13 years, $124 million
Not only is Ovechkin’s the richest contract in NHL history, it also holds another special mark of all the deals on this list: it’s the only deal negotiated by a player who did not have representation. That’s right, Ovechkin, along with Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and then GM George McPhee, had his parents by his side when he worked out the details of the deal, but there’s no salary being paid to agents in Ovechkin’s giant contract.
While there are longer deals on this list and some that pay more per season, none has the structure that Ovechkin’s does. Where most deals in the NHL tail off, Ovechkin actually makes more money as the years go on. In fact, this season signaled an increase for Ovechkin as he goes from making $9 million in each of the first six seasons to $10 million in each of the next seven. It’s no Stanton money, but at least The Great Eight would only have to live about three lifetimes to make up for the shortfall.