Today we will take a look at the top 10 career earners of all time in the NHL, and I must say, boy oh boy, what a list it is. Filled with current and future Hall of Famer’s, this top 10 list of legendary players also includes a total of 17 Stanley Cup wins, and an endless record of awards. In order to crack a spot on this list you’ve got to be good, and stay good for a long while. Consistency is what has led these great players to being the highest earners of all time.
Some notable omissions to this list may shock you because of the timing of their contracts. Legends such as Wayne Gretzky didn’t make the top 10, nor the top 20, as unbelievable as it sounds. Only one goaltender made the top 10 list, and it isn't Patrick Roy. Roy is ranked as the fourth highest career earner in goal, with total earnings of close to $57 million, just behind Roberto Luongo and Nikolai Khabibulin. As remarkable as this sounds, Roy's number falls more than $20 million short of the top 10 list. Other surprising players that didn’t crack the list consist of Mario Lemieux, Pavel Bure, Mark Messier, Peter Forsberg and many others as well.
Now, let’s focus on who made this illustrious list of great players, starting with number 10, Sergei Fedorov.
10 Sergei Fedorov - Career Earnings: $81.162 million
What a player in his prime. Fedorov played a major part in the dynasty that a team like the Red Wings created in the mid 90’s, on route to winning 3 Stanley cups with them. Fedorov was a part of one of the most dominant lines in NHL history called “the Russian 5” featuring himself, Igor Larionov, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Slava Fetisov and Vladimir Konstantinov. During this time, Fedorov was in the prime of his career, winning his first and only Hart Trophy in 1994, and later on capturing his first of 3 Stanley Cups with the Red Wings. Although Sergei lost his way in production, after accepting a massive contract offer from the Ducks, his best years in Detroit will never be forgotten. Such achievements include multiple Selke Trophy wins, a Lester B. Pearson Award, league MVP and 3 Stanley Cups, in which he was arguably the best Red Wing player in all 3 cup runs. Sergei is currently the GM of CSKA Moscow in the KHL. His legacy and achievements in the league make it easy to understand why he is in the top 10 earners of all time.
9 Keith Tkachuk - Career Earnings: $81.2 million
Keith Tkachuk may go down in history as one of the best American-born hockey players to ever play the game. In an era where American-born players lacked in quality, as opposed to today’s new generation, Tkachuk was legendary. Keith is one of only 4 American-born players to score 500 goals, and is the 6th American to ever hit 1,000 points. The power forward led the way for the US in numerous Olympic games, and will certainly go down as one of the all-time greats. Throughout his career, Keith played for four different teams; first playing with The Winnipeg Jets, he then relocated to Phoenix, followed by St. Louis where he played the bulk of his career, and lastly had a brief stint in Atlanta before heading back to the Blues. Tkachuk’s hard-nosed style, leadership and more importantly his career durability made him one of the top ten earners of all time.
8 Martin Brodeur - Career Earnings: $81.966 million
Marty Brodeur is one of only 3 currently active players to be in this top 10 list. Marty is also the only goalie to be in the top 10 list, the closest goalie to him in career earnings being Roberto Luongo who ranks 25th on the all-time list. In other words, this shows the rarity of a goalie making serious cash in comparison to players. Brodeur is still going strong at a cool $4 million per season at the age of 41. Marty being in the top 10 is no surprise, as his list of accomplishments are absolutely endless: 3 Stanley cups, 2 Olympic gold medals, 4 Vezina Trophies, 9 all-star appearances and much, much more. Broduer also holds a variety of NHL records such as most regular season wins of all time, most regular season shutouts of all time, most regular season games played of all time by a goalie, and a sweet stat of being the only goalie to ever score a game-winning goal. If Brodeur chose to extend his playing career by an extra year, he may have the opportunity to be bumped into the number 7 slot on the all-time career earners list.
7 Rob Blake - Career Earnings: $84.824 million
Rob Blake was one of the true heart-and-soul leaders in his era, playing 11 seasons with the LA Kings before moving over to Colorado where he won the first and only Stanley Cup of his career. Blake was a strong leader who played big minutes and led by example with an in-your-face style of play, and was able to shoot the puck just as hard as he played. In addition, Blake also joined Team Canada in 3 consecutive Olympics in which he won his first gold medal in 2002. This achievement provided Blake an elite membership to the triple gold club, having won a Stanley cup, Olympic gold and a World Championship. Blake is one of only 3 defensemen to be in this top 10 list.
6 Vincent Lecavalier - Career Earnings: $87.311 million
Lecavalier is one of only 2 currently active forwards playing today to be exhibited on this top 10 list. His buyout by his former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning certainly aided his career earnings. Vinny was bought out in the 5th year of his 11-year contract, which was valued at $85 million. After being acquired by the Flyers, he still managed to cash in quite nicely with a 5-year $22.5 million dollar deal, an amount that most teams were not willing to pay. Despite being bought out, the former Lightning captain has enjoyed a great career, being slected first overall by the Lightning in1998, and winning a Stanley cup in 2004 and a Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals in 2007. Lecavalier is by far the youngest player on this list at 33, and still has much to prove in his career. Expect him to potentially be in the top 5 by the time he hangs up his skates if all goes well.
5 Paul Kariya - Career Earnings: $89.372 million
Injuries and constant concussion problems unfortunately cut Kariya’s NHL career way shorter than it should have been. In his time, Paul was the heart and soul upfront for the Anaheim “Mighty” Ducks. The small speedster was known for his rocket of a shot, and for booming down the left wing. Kariya, along with Teemu Selanne revolutionized hockey in the area, leading to massive popularity within the sport. Paul had many great accomplishments in his career such as winning multiple gold medals and 2 Lady Byng Trophies, and is a 7-time career All-Star. Many are left to wonder how different Kariya’s career would have been had he stayed healthy.
4 Joe Sakic - Career Earnings: $96.379 million
As a Wings fan growing up, man oh man did I ever fear this guy, but one thing I could never do, was hate Joe. He was one of the classiest leaders to ever be found in NHL history, and it doesn’t come as a shock to me that he lands in the top 5 of our richest list. My brother, a Colorado fan, would always marvel about this guy, and why wouldn’t he? His career accomplishments are tremendous. The recent inductee of the Hall of Fame has an endless list of achievements. He's a two-time Stanley Cup winner, has a Conn Smythe Trophy, a Hart Trophy, a Lady Byng Trophy, a Lester B. Pearson Award and an Olympic Gold medal. What hasn’t this guy won? Sakic as well holds almost every single Avalanche record in goals, assists and games played all-time. Out of all these incredible awards and achievement, the best thing Joe knew how to do throughout his Hall-of-Fame career was simply win.
3 Nicklas Lidstrom - Career Earnings: $100.64 million
I had the privilege to watch this guy almost on a nightly basis; what a treat it was. Some may argue that Nick Lidstrom is remembered as being the best defensemen to ever play the game. Although this remains debateable, one thing’s for certain, he was the greatest defenseman to play in his era. Everything he did was so effortless, you rarely saw Lidstrom give or take a hit, it was almost like watching a machine play hockey, and everything he did was so perfect. In order to be on this list, consistency is key. No one defines this more so than Lidstrom. Still playing over 20 minutes a night on the heels of his retirement, his career was marked by constant success; 4 Stanley Cups, 12 All-Star appearances, a Conn Smythe Trophy, an Olympic Gold medal and most remarkable of all, 7 Norris Trophies for the best defensemen in the league. Nick set the mark for Europeans, becoming the first ever Norris and Conn Smythe trophy winner from Europe. The Wings are set to hang up Lidstrom’s number 5 on March 6th at the Joe Louis Arena. What a career for this perfect human.
2 Chris Pronger - Career Earnings: $108.8 million
There is no tougher way to end the career of this semi-retired defenseman. Chris Pronger’s injuries to his vision along with his post-concussion problems cut his career shorter than he, or anyone else expected. The icon was still able to play the game at an extremely high level. Pronger has had great success throughout his years in the NHL and was always regarded as hard player who loved to win. Chris was the winner of 2 Olympic gold medals in 2002 and 2010, a Stanley Cup champion with the Ducks, and in 2000 the winner of both the Norris Trophy and Hart Trophy. This is a remarkable achievement considering Pronger is the only defensemen in the last 39 seasons to win the Hart Trophy. The last person to do so was the great Bobby Orr in the 1971-1972 season. Pronger is currently the all-time highest-earning defenseman in hockey.
1 Jaromir Jagr - Career Earnings: $117.803 million
Whenever I get the opportunity to watch Jagr play I laugh and stare in amazement. The guy is 41 years old, and it is still nearly impossible for his rivals to take the puck away from him. His consistency and conditioning throughout his career have been remarkable to watch. The man is just so durable. At 41, Jagr is still making tremendous money, earning $4 million a season in New Jersey. Rightfully so; Jagr tops the Devils thus far in almost every offensive category, leading the team in goals, assists, shots on goal and points. Being able to achieve these statistics at 41, it is no secret why this superstar is positioned at number 1 on this list. To go along with his current play, Jagr’s past is full of awards and milestones such as, 2 Stanley Cups, 5 Art Ross Trophies, 3 Lester B. Pearson Awards, an Olympic gold medal and a Hart Trophy in 1999. Jagr has also set NHL records for most game-winning goals, most points by a right winger and most goals, assists and points by a European player. Jagr may remain number one on this list for quite some time.
Top Career Earners 11-20: 11) Brad Richards 12) Mats Sundin 13) Teemu Selanne 14) Jarome Iginla 15) Mike Modano 16) Joe Thornton 17) Marian Hossa 18) Peter Forsberg 19) Zdeno Chara 20) Wade Redden