According to NHL.com, there were 25 Finnish-born players in the NHL as of the start of the 2013-14 season. Finland has a strong hockey history as it has held its own national team for more than sixty years. In fact, the country’s national hockey team has won three Bronze and two Silver medals in Olympic competition. The country has become highly competitive with Sweden and other countries in Europe for dominance in the sport of ice hockey.
Finland has produced a variety of stars over the years including many who have played in the NHL or are still playing. The country has brought all kinds of players into the game like Esa Peltonen, Jari Kurri, Saku Koivu, Kimmo Timonen and Olli Jokinen.
While many people who play in Finland will go play for Liiga, the top ice hockey league in Finland, others will head to the Kontinental Hockey League. In fact, the KHL will bring a Finnish team into the fold in 2014 as Jokerit will leave the Liiga and move to the KHL.
Still, many players will head out to the NHL instead of the KHL. In fact, the average KHL player makes about $660,000 per year on average while an NHL player makes $2.2 million. The money trail is clearly heading towards the NHL as players have taken a strong interest in going to North America to play with the best players in the world.
Today there are many great Finnish players who are earning millions of American dollars playing in the NHL. This list features the ten highest-earning Finnish players in the league as of the start of the 2013-2014 season. They are players who have earned millions for their skills with some of them being longtime veterans of the league.
10. Teemu Selanne – Anaheim Ducks – $2 Million in 2013
Teemu Selanne is the highest-scoring NHL player to have ever come from Finland. He started playing for the original Winnipeg Jets in 1992 and has spent most of his career since then with the Anaheim Ducks. Today he is getting $2 million a season but he earned a career-high $5.8 million in 2003 with the Colorado Avalanche. His demand has declined as he has aged but he remains a well-respected veteran of the game. Selanne has stated that this will be his final season in the NHL.
9. Saku Koivu – Anaheim Ducks – $2.5 Million in 2013
Saku Koivu joined the NHL in 1995 with the Montreal Canadiens and became the Habs’ first European-born captain. He missed almost all of the 2001-02 battling Burkitt’s Lymphoma but eventually came back to continue leading the Habs. He was traded to Anaheim in 2009 and is now getting $2.5 million a year to play for the team alongside fellow Fin Selanne. He did earn $4.75 million per year in his final years with Montreal.
8. Niklas Backstrom – Minnesota Wild – $2.5 Million in 2013
Niklas Backstrom has played in goal for the Minnesota Wild since 2006. Although he doesn’t have much playoff experience and or success when he has actually gotten to the postseason, Backstrom has still received a good deal of money and is currently earning $2.5 million per year. Still, this is a major decline from the $6 million that he got each year in his last deal from 2009 to 2012.
7. Jussi Jokinen – Pittsburgh Penguins – $3 Million in 2013
Jussi Jokinen is not related to Winnipeg’s Olli Jokinen but he too is earning millions in the NHL. Jokinen was traded from the Carolina Hurricanes to Pittsburgh late in 2013 and is making $3 million per year with the Pens. He was earning $1.5 million in 2009 while playing for the Hurricanes. He was also earning the same salary a few years earlier with the Tampa Bay Lightning before being traded to Carolina.
6. Sami Salo – TampaBay Lightning – $3.5 Million in 2013
Sami Salo is pushing forty as he has been in the NHL since 1998. He played for the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks but his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning marks the first year he’s been with an American team. His $3.5 million salary with the Bolts is close to what he got during his last contract with the Canucks a few years back. Salo will be a free agent after this year.
5. Olli Jokinen – Winnipeg Jets – $4.5 Million in 2013
Olli Jokinen will get $4.5 million from the Winnipeg Jets this year just like his did last season. Jokinen has played with seven different teams during his career, his longest tenure being seven years with the Florida Panthers. He once made $5 million per year with the Panthers but still makes close to that north of the border.
4. Tuomo Ruutu – Carolina Hurricanes – $4.75 Million in 2013
Tuomo Ruutu started his career with the Chicago Blackhawks but was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2008. Ruutu still plays in Raleigh and is getting a career-high $5 million per year from now until 2016 according to his current contract structure, a total close to twice what he last earned in Chicago. He also has a brother, Jarkko, who played for the Ottawa Senators but moved back to Europe to play for Jokerit.
3. Tuukka Rask – Boston Bruins – $6 Million in 2013
Tuukka Rask has become the goaltender for the Boston Bruins following Tim Thomas’ departure in 2012. His $6 million comes from the first year of his eight-year contract worth $56 million. He will make as much as $7.5 million in a year during the middle part of his contract with the Bruins. His experience in the 2013 playoffs may end up helping him earn additional bonuses in the future.
2. Kimmo Timonen – Philadelphia Flyers – $6 Million in 2013
Kimmo Timonen has been an NHL defenseman since 1998. He spent a large amount of time with the Nashville Predators and has played for the Flyers since 2007. As one of the ten highest-scoring Finnish players in NHL history, he is getting $6 million this year. Timonen has a one-year deal with Philadelphia, making him a free agent at 39 years of age when the season ends.
1. Mikko Koivu – Minnesota Wild – $7.3 Million in 2013
Mikko Koivu is eight years younger than his brother Saku. Like his brother, Mikko has become a team captain as he currently wears the C for the Minnesota Wild, earning $7.3 million this year. His seven-year, $47 million deal will pay him $9.1 million in 2017-18, the final year of his contract. He was paid around $3.3 million per year in his last contract with the Wild in 2010.
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