Along with announcing their franchise valuations each season, Forbes has taken to putting together a list of the 10 players earning the most in each given campaign, and this year’s list sees four fresh faces and, for the first time, not a single player under $10-million in projected earnings.
The 2016-17 projections also feature a change on the top of the list.
For years, Sidney Crosby has been the face of the NHL and he was paid as such, too. For each of the past three seasons, Crosby has been among the highest paid players, earning $12-million per year. That was a big help when it came to finding himself at the very top of the Forbes’ list, but the reasons for his security in top spot go beyond his massive NHL paycheck.
Crosby has expansive endorsement portfolio, and, even though he finds himself in second place this year, he’s making almost a third of his money from endorsements. Crosby is one of the faces of Tim Hortons’ NHL campaigns alongside Nathan MacKinnon, as well as earning endorsement dollars from CCM and Gatorade. All told, Forbes estimated his non-hockey earnings to be somewhere in the $4.5-million range.
A dip in salary to $10.9 million, however, sees Crosby now second in overall earnings to Jonathan Toews.
Toews, the Blackhawks captain and three-time Stanley Cup champion, is tied with Patrick Kane as the second-highest salaried player in the league with $13.8-million salary. What helps Toews bump himself up to first on the list, though, is his estimated $2.2 million in endorsements. Canadians get a healthy dose of Toews on any given night they’re watching hockey, seeing him pop up in ads for Canadian Tire every few breaks. Toews also has deals with Bauer, Hallmark, and Chevrolet in Chicago, according to Forbes.
And rounding out the top three, and keeping the trio in the top three spots unchanged, is Kane. His monstrous salary has helped him stick around at the top of the list. Kane also is set to earn a reported $1 million in endorsements, including a deal with Bauer that often sees him featured in highlight-reel videos.
The only change in the entire top-five is the addition of Anze Kopitar, and the Los Angeles Kings pivot has his massive new contract to thank for coming in at No. 4. Kopitar is the highest-salaried player in the league right now, making $14-million in the first year of his eight-year, $80-million deal with the Kings, but he’ll slowly slip down the ladder. Next season he’ll be down to “just” $13 million, $12 million in 2018-19, $11 million in 2019-20 and then $30 million spread over the next four years.
For the second consecutive year, Alex Ovechkin is in fifth spot. His $10-million salary almost seems pedestrian at this point, but his $4 million in endorsements is anything but. In fact, he’s the second-highest endorsement earner in the league, behind only Crosby. Ovechkin arguably has the more interesting endorsements, too. Bauer, Nike, Coca-Cola, Upper Deck, Fanatics and a Russian bank all have Ovechkin on board, according to Forbes, and that’s leaving out his role as one of the faces of a Russian mobile strategy game.
The bottom half of the list has the bulk of the fresh faces, with P.K. Subban, Ryan O’Reilly and Steven Stamkos all making their way into Forbes’ Top 10 this year. Subban’s $11-million salary and off-ice work has him in sixth spot, which was previously occupied by now-10th Henrik Lundqvist, while O’Reilly and Stamkos fall in eighth and ninth, respectively. Rounding out the list is Shea Weber, who fell from fourth to seventh because of a $2-million drop in his salary.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.