When the Sochi Olympics roll around in February, all of the hockey world’s attention will be focussed on the Men’s Hockey tournament. 12 nations (Canada, U.S.A., Russia, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, Norway, Latvia, Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland) will compete for the ultimate prize of being Olympic champions. These teams will be comprised of NHLers and players from a variety of European Leagues.
For a tournament of this nature, there are bound to be several high-profile players competing who have big-money contracts back in the NHL. This list will break down the top 10 teams sending the most valuable players (in terms of combined salaries) to the 2014 Winter Oylmpics. We will take the cap hit of every player representing each separate team and see which team is sending over the most expensive package of players to Russia. If you have a variety of players going over that must mean 1 of 2 things; either you have an elite team or you have a variety of players that play for smaller nations like Norway or Switzerland. No doubt, coaches and GMs alike are not only praying for their players’ success in the tournament, but also that they don’t sustain any serious injuries playing for their home nation.
10. Anaheim Ducks – $28,160,000 Going to Sochi
The Anaheim Ducks are sending over 7 players that fill a variety of roles on their team. The headliners of their list begin with their 2 stars: Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. They both made Team Canada despite the huge competition and will likely play together on a line. Teemu Selanne will also be playing for Finland in what should be his last NHL season and the last Olympics of his career. Also making the trip are starting goaltender Jonas Hiller of Switzerland, strong defender Cam Fowler of the United States of America, Jakob Silfverberg of Sweden and Sami Vatanen of Finland. The Ducks would have also sent Saku Koivu over, but he removed his name from consideration because he didn’t believe his body could handle it. The bulk of the $28,160,000 being sent to Sochi belongs to star players Perry and Getzlaf who have a cap hit of $8,625,000 and $8,250,000 respectively.
9. Boston Bruins – $28,416,667 Going to Sochi
The Stanley Cup Finalists from last year boast an impressive line-up that will likely challenge for the cup again this year, and nations have noticed by selecting 5 players from their squad. The 5 Bruins who got the call are all top-level talents and despite other teams sending more players than Boston, their 5 players are all quite pricey. Headlining their talent is Zdeno Chara who will be the leader of the Slovakian team and a huge part of whatever they are able to accomplish in the tournament. They are also sending one of the best goalies in the world in Tuukka Rask of Finland and one of the top face-off guys in the league in Patrice Bergeron of Canada. Rounding out their list is Loui Eriksson who hopes to recover from an injury in time to represent Sweden and underrated center David Krejci will be joining his captain with Slovakia. The bulk of the money here goes to Rask who has a cap hit of $7 million for this year while Chara is not far behind with a cap hit of $6,916,667.
8. Montreal Canadiens – $29,250,000 Going to Sochi
Next on the list is the reigning Northeast champions and the most historic team in the sport. They will be sending a grand total of 8 players over as they boast players from 6 different nations. Their biggest stars going over are P.K. Subban who was believed to be on the bubble before the selection, despite winning the Norris trophy for the best defenseman last year, and Carey Price who has been sensational this year. They will also be sending over Tomas Plekanec, who will be the Czech Republic’s captain, power forward Max Pacioretty of the U.S.A., defensive pairing Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin of Russia, backup goalie Peter Budaj of Slovakia and Raphael Diaz of Switzerland. A large portion of the $29,250,000 goes to the salaries of Price, Markov and Plekanec who each make north of $5 million per year. This number would be much higher if the Olympics were next year as P.K. Subban is in line for a new contract, and if recent contracts are an indication (7 million a year to Dion Phanuef?!?), then P.K. will be making much more than his current $2,875,000.
7. New York Rangers – $30,125,000 Going to Sochi
The Rangers are in the middle of the pack this season, but Olympic teams have ignored that fact by asking 7 of their players to go overseas for the Games. The biggest names are star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist of Sweden and Rick Nash, who many (including this scribe) don’t believe should be on the Canadian roster. They will also be sending the only representative of Norway from the NHL in winger Mats Zuccarello, along with forward Carl Hagelin to Sweden, Captain Ryan Callahan to the U.S.A. along with Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh. The bulk of the Rangers’ assets come from their goaltender who is one of the highest-paid in the game at an annual cap hit of $6,875,000 along with overpaid superstar in Rick Nash who makes $7,800,000 per year.
6. Los Angeles Kings – $31,214,394 Going to Sochi
The Stanley Cup Champions from 2 years ago, will be sending over 6 players, and despite this number being lower than both the Canadiens and Rangers, they have more money invested as they are sending over elite players. This includes the Conn Smythe-winning goaltender Jonathan Quick for the U.S.A. and superstar center Anze Kopitar who is the focal point of the Slovenian team. They will also be sending 2 players to the Canadian national team with defender Drew Doughty and forward Jeff Carter making the cut. Captain Dustin Brown will join his goalie with the American national team and Slava Voynov was selected to the Russian team to add some grit to their defensive line. The most expensive players going over are Kopitar with a cap hit of $6.8 million and Doughty with a cap hit of $7 million per year.
5. Vancouver Canucks – $32,683,333 Going to Sochi
The Vancouver Canucks have found their footing after a difficult start to the season with new coach John Tortorella, and Olympic teams have noticed by selecting 7 of their players to join them in Sochi. Highlighting the list are the twins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who will be carrying the load offensively for the Swedish team, along with goaltender Roberto Luongo, who will be in competition with Carey Price for the starting job for Canada. Also making the cut are the underrated Ryan Kesler of the U.S.A., steady defender Alex Edler of Sweden, surprise pick Dan Hamhuis of Canada and the diminutive Yannick Weber of Switzerland. The bulk of the money Vancouver has going over is tied up in the Sedin’s as they each make $6.1 million while Kesler, Edler and Luongo each make north of $5 million per year.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins – $32,869,167 Going to Sochi
An obvious entry in this list is the Pittsburgh Penguins as they boast 2 of the best players in the world who will both be integral to their team’s chances of winning gold. Sidney Crosby of Canada and Evgeni Malkin of Russia form a vicious 1-2 punch for the Penguins, but will be facing off against each other to determine which nation is worthy of Olympic glory. Also making the cut was Crosby’s linemate, Chris Kunitz, who Canada is banking on to have chemistry with their leader despite a lack of talent as compared to some omissions like Martin St. Louis. Pittsburgh will be sending 4 more players over in Jussi Jokinen of Finland, defenders Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik of the U.S.A. and Olli Maatta of Finland. Their most expensive players going over are obvious as both Malkin and Crosby command $8.7 million per year.
3. Detroit Red Wings – $36,368,712 Going to Sochi
The Detroit Red Wings have always had a wealth of European players on their roster and this year is no different as they have a total of 10 players going to Sochi. They will be sending over a third of the Swedish team as their Captain Henrik Zetterberg is joined by Johan Franzen, Daniel Alfredsson, Jonathan Ericsson, Jonas Gustavsson and Niklas Kronwall to form the backbone of the Swedish team. Also getting a call is the fantastic Pavel Datsyuk who is the top 2-way player in the league and will be valuable to the Russians as their second center behind Evgeni Malkin. The Red Wings will also be sending their starting goaltender Jimmy Howard of the U.S.A. and two Slovakian grinders in Tomas Jurco and Tomas Tatar. Their most expensive player going is Datsyuk who has an annual cap hit of $6.7 million, while Captain Henrik Zetterberg brings home $6,083,333 annually.
2. St. Louis Blues – $38,667,500 Going to Sochi
The St. Louis Blues have been one of the best teams in the NHL this year and the managers of the Olympic teams definitely took notice as 10 of their players were selected for the Games. Their top defensive pairing of Alex Pietrangelo and the overrated Jay Bouwmeester were selected to Canada along with their underrated defender Kevin Shattenkirk, who will be a member of the American team. Also making the cut for the U.S.A. were forwards David Backes and T.J. Oshie. They will also be sending their starting goalie Jaroslav Halak of Slovakia, top scorer in the NHL (before his injury) Alex Steen of Sweden, young-gun Vladimi Tarasenko of Russia, Patrick Berglund of Sweden and Vladimir Sobotka of Slovakia. The bulk of the money being sent over is in the Blues’ defenders as Bouwmeester makes $6.68 million while his partner Pietrangelo brings home $6.5 million.
1. Chicago Blackhawks – $40,721,795 Going to Sochi
The obvious choice for first place on this list were the reigning Stanley Cup champions whose players were recognized for their exemplary work over the last year. The obvious selections were Captain Jonathan Toews of Canada, Patrick Kane of the U.S.A. and Marian Hossa of Slovakia. Also making the cut was underrated sniper Patrick Sharp and the equally underrated but phenomenal Duncan Keith, both joining Toews to give Canada a strong roster. Michael Rosival of the Czech Republic, Michael Handzus of Slovakia and Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Jonny Oduya will join a wealth of their rival Red Wings on the Swedish roster. The Blackhawks are sending over 5 of their star players which consists of a huge portion of the money being sent over. Kane and Toews each make over $6 million, while Keith, Sharp and Hossa make over $5 million. This amount would have been even higher had Canada selected Keith’s defensive partner, Brent Seabrook, as was expected.