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Biggest NHL contracts

Washington superstars Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both make our wealthy list. (Getty Images)

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Washington superstars Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both make our wealthy list. (Getty Images)

By Kyle Palantzas

In the wake of the longest contract in NHL history fizzling into the abyss, THN started musing on players’ price tags.

Chew on this for a second.

Martin Brodeur’s contract called for him to make $140,000 in 1994-95, a figure that was reduced to $81,200 thanks to a lockout-shortened season. That was the cost of a Cup-winning goalie in ’95. In 2010, the Rangers will pay Derek Boogaard $1.625 million to take about 10, 40-second shifts per contest and scare people.

Enough said? We think so.

The fast-forward button seems to be stuck on the NHL’s financial landscape, as teams dish out big cash to get high-end, or at least highly paid, talent in their midst.

But with the Kovalchuk deal being kyboshed, it gave us a chance to marvel at the Top 10 biggest contracts (in terms of total dollars) in NHL history.

10. Roberto Luongo, Vancouver – $64 million

We get things started with the Canucks creaseman, who inked a 12-year, $64-million contract that, in theory, will keep him between Vancouver’s pipes through 2021-22. How much does this massive paycheck weigh? It seems the big price tag is amplifying the scorching spotlight on the Canucks captain. 

9). Nicklas Backstrom, Washington – $67 million

Despite an abrupt exit in the playoffs, the Caps reacted quickly in locking down the explosive pivot. The Swedish youngster recently signed a 10-year, $67-million pact, keeping the ever-so-dangerous connection of Backstrom-to-Ovechkin together for at least another decade.

8). Rick DiPietro, Islanders – $67.5 million

The oft-injured Isles goalie was the first player to sign a gargantuan contract coming out of the lockout. The 2000 first overall draft pick is cashing in $67.5 million over 15 years, but has only played a mere 13 games the past two seasons. This, folks, is a prime example of a foiled contract.

7). Mike Richards, Philadelphia – $69 million

Richards captained just the third team in league history to overcome an 0-3 playoff series deficit en route to leading the Flyers to the 2010 Stanley Cup final. Philadelphia, once condemned for the 12-year deal, is now getting bang for its buck, taking a $5.75 million cap hit for the next 10 years.

6). Duncan Keith, Chicago – $72 million


Behind his gold medal, Norris Trophy and Stanley Cup, Keith is hauling in the big bucks. But the smooth-skating defenseman works hard for his money, placing runner-up in minutes played last season. The Blackhawks blueline investment is costing them $72 million over 13 years, making Keith the highest paid defenseman in history.

5). Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit – $73 million

The $73 million contract was enough dough to keep Zetterberg locked down in Hockeytown for 12 seasons. The 2008 Conn Smythe Trophy winner looks like he could be a Wing for life, just like his predecessor, Steve Yzerman.

4). Jaromir Jagr, Washington – $77 million

Jagr inked a seven-year, $77-million contract with the Caps in 2001, the largest deal at the time. The Czech winger, who signed before the salary cap days, earned more money per game than Bobby Orr made in three seasons.

3). Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay – $85 million

Tampa Bay anchored Lecavalier to an 11-year, $85-million pact, keeping him in the Sunshine State until he’s 39. The deal makes Vinny the richest North American player of all-time, so hopefully things start to go better than they have the past two seasons for Tampa’s captain.

2). Alexei Yashin, Islanders – $87.5 million

Despite playing in Russia for the past three seasons, Yashin will actually be the highest paid player on the Islanders roster in 2010-11. New York bought-out his 10-year, $87.5-million deal in 2007, but the former NHLer will collect two-thirds of his original yearly stipend through 2014-2015.

1). Alex Ovechkin, Washington – $124 million

The dynamic superstar follows Russian suit to the top of the list. The Caps captain signed a colossal 13-year, $124-million contract that made him Washington property for three more presidential elections. Since Ovechkin joined the Caps in 2005, the team’s attendance has increased by more than 20 percent. It’s a small – or at the very least, acceptable – tab to pay for a player who revitalized an entire hockey market.

 

The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.

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