This list will look at 10 heart and soul captains of their respective teams, that despite their heart and leadership, rank within the lowest paid captains among all teams. The amount this list ranges from is between $6 million, to as low as $3.25 million, pretty low numbers in comparison to other captains around the league. The current top 5 highest paid captains this season include:
1) Shea Weber, $14 million
2) Sidney Crosby, $12 million
3) Alex Ovechkin, $10 million
4) Claude Giroux, $10 million
5) Eric Staal, $9.25 million
The future of captains salary’s is expected to inflate as time goes on, in the 2016-2017 season, Jonathan Toews is set to pass Shea Weber, cashing in with a cool $13.8 million. There is no doubt salaries are going up considerably year after year, but for now, let’s look at some of these extremely modest salaries for some great heart and soul guys, beginning with a player at number 10, who is beginning a new chapter in his life with his new team.
10 Mikko Koivu, $5.4 million
Despite landing in the top 10 lowest paid captains, in the 2011 off-season, Mikko signed a pricy deal worth $47.25 million in exchange for a 7 year term ($6.75 per). In his current prime, at the age of 31, Koivu’s contract numbers will almost certainly take a hit; his contract is set to expire in the 2018 off season, when he will be 35 years old. With many players on the rise in Minnesota, with the likes of Niederreiter, Granlund, Haula, Coyle, Brodin and others, keeping these numbers for Koivu may be an impossibility. Look for a possible trade, or for the Wild captain to take a pay decrease in the future.
9 Brian Gionta, $5.25 million
Despite being one of the shortest players in the league, Brian Gionta certainly deserves the "C" on his jersey. Gionta was the captain of the Montreal Canadians for 4 years, and he was only the 2nd ever American born player to be elected as the team's captain in the franchise's history. In the off-season, Gionta signed a 3 year deal with the Buffalo Sabres, worth $12.75 million (including a $3.75 million signing bonus and an average salary of $4.25 million per year). At 35 years old, many expect Gionta to end his career as a Sabre. The veteran will surely be a great leader, with many years of experience under his hat, as well as a Stanley Cup ring (from the 2002-2003 Stanley Cup Champions with the New Jersey Devils).
8 Jamie Benn, $ 5.25 million
Yes folks, Jamie Benn actually makes this list till the 2017-2018 season, where his contract terms will probably double the amount of money per season. When Crosby calls you the best franchise player in the league, you know dollar signs are a certainty in your future. Benn enjoyed a breakout season last year, leading his Stars into the post season, and is projected to be amongst the elite of the league in seasons to come. What is baffling about Benn’s current wages per season, is that the Stars captain ranks 5th highest paid player on the team; yes fifth. Jason Spezza ($7 mill per), Tyler Seguin ($5.75 mill per), Shawn Horcoff ($5.5 mill per) and Kari Lehtonen ($5.9 mill per), all rank higher than Benn on the team. Although, we can expect this to change very shorty.
7 Shane Doan, $5.05 million
This guy has been the heart and soul for the Arizona Coyotes for years now, and he lays it all on the line every night. Doan is possibly in his final contract of his career, signing a 4 year deal in 2012 worth $21.2 million, for over 4 years ($5.3 mill per). Doan’s contract is set to expire in the 2015-2016 season, when Doan will be 39 years old. Many ponder that if the Coyotes are not competitive enough, Doan may waive his no trade clause and perhaps give it a go with another team in his final year of his deal, or retire as a Coyote.
6 David Backes, $4.75 million
David Backes is yet another example of a team’s heart and soul, he really does whatever it takes to win, and is certainly one of the league’s best leaders. Backes is currently enjoying his second last season of his 5 year deal, which started in the 2011-2012 season, worth $22.5 million for 5 years. In the prime of his career at the age of 30, expect Backes to demand a pretty hefty pay raise. With the likes of teammates, Alex Steen making $5.8 million at the age of 30, as well as newly signed Paul Stastny, making $7 million a season the age of 28, it will be inevitable that Backes will demand similar dollars. If the Blues fail to accommodate Backes, expect the Blues captain to be a massive free agent target in two seasons.
5 Gabriel Landeskog, $ 4.5 million
At still only the tender age of 21, Gabriel Landeskog (at 19 years old) became the youngest captain in NHL history, passing Sidney Crosby by 11 days. An incredible accomplishment for the young Avalanche captain. A replica of John Tavares' contract, Landeskog will continue to be a steal for the Avalanche till the 2020-2021 season. Gab is set to begin this season with his new 7 year deal worth $39 million, an average of $5.57 million per season. This is a remarkable deal for the Av’s, leaving them with some flexible cap room for years to come. Expect a huge pay raise in 7 years, when Landeskog will hit 28, the prime age for a player’s career.
4 Andrew Ladd, $4.5 million
One thing you've got to love about Andrew Ladd is his consistency, game in and game out, this factor is what truly makes Ladd a great captain. Ladd is currently in his second last season of his 5 year, $22 million dollar deal ($4.4 mill per). In his prime at the age of 28, Ladd will certainly demand an increase on his contract numbers. The Jets' Captain unbelievably ranks 7th on the team for highest average cap hit. In front of him making more money are Blake Wheeler ($5.6 mill per), Evander Kane ($5.25 mill per), Bryan Little ($4.7 mill per), Tobias Enstrom ($5.75 mill per), Dustin Byfuglien ($5.25 mill per) and Zach Bogosian ($5.143 mill per). With all these players making more than Ladd, expect the captain to demand a wealthy deal. If not due to cap constrains, Ladd may be inclined to hit free agency and make some serious money on the market.
3 Mark Giordano, $4 million
The Flames were devastated by Mark Giordano’s injury last season, which kept him out for 18 games. In his return, Giordano was tremendous, putting up a career 47 points, along with a plus 12 rating, undoubtedly an incredible achievement considering the team gave up 32 goals more than they scored. Giordano is one of the league’s most underrated captains and is currently showing that he is at the prime of his career. In the second last year of his 5 year, $20.1 million dollar deal, expect a big raise for the captain. Although, several factors will tie into Giordano making some extra bucks: 1) the team is young and needs a stable veteran-like-presence on and off the ice. 2) Calgary is at the cap floor and has the most cap space in the league, they have money to spend. 3) Wideman makes $5.25 a season.... Enough said.
2 Andrew Ference, $ 3.75 million
The Oilers relied on Andrew’s Stanley Cup championship ring to lead them to success, and to present the young team with an idea of what it takes to win. Unfortunately this has not been the case. At the age of 35, Ference still has 3 more years to go in his 4 year, $13 million contract. Ference's undervalue as a captain is not only apparent on the league making him the second lowest paid captain, but also on the team. Ference ranks 11th on team in salary, surpassed by Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Purcell, Poulliot, Perron, Yakupov, Nikitin, Schltz and Fayne. Now, that’s a long list of players. At 35 years old, Ference isn't getting any younger, so look for a possible trade involving a cup contender if the Oilers, once again, go south this season.
1 Bryce Salvador, $ 3.25 million
Set to turn 39 in February of 2015, Bryce Salvador is currently the oldest captain in the NHL, as well as the lowest paid captain in the league. Salvador split his career, 7 seasons a piece, with St.Louis in the first half, and the Devils in the second half. Bryce was always relied on by both teams as being a dependable stay-at-home defensemen, that can also move the puck. In 2013, Salvador was named the 10th captain in Devils history, and also became the third black captain in NHL history. After an injury prone season behind him, many expect this to be Salvador’s final season wearing the red and black. Despite being the least paid captain in the league, it is remarkable that at 37, Salvador was named the captain of this team, truly a great accomplishment.