highest paid NHL player

Who Is The Highest Paid NHL Player In 2023?

Sports has become one of the highest-paid professions in the world today. Fans all like to know how much their favourite plays are earning.  So, who is the highest-paid NHL player in 2023? The amount players could get as total salaries differ from how much average annual salary (AAV) they earn.

McConnor David is the highest-paid player in the NHL, with the hockey star earning an annual average salary of $12.5 million. On the other hand, the player with the highest total salary is Auston Matthews, with $15.9 million. 

So, it might be confusing, and you must be thinking, What is an average annual salary? How is it different from a player’s actual salary? All these and more will be discussed in this article. 

McConnor David highest paid NHL player

What Is The Difference Between Total Salary And Annual Average Salary (AAV)?

When looking at any NHL player’s salary, you’ll see two different numbers. The first is the Average Annual Value (AAV), which is the average annual value of a player’s contract. The second number is Actual Salary, which shows the guaranteed salary for the year. 

An easy way to remember this is that AAV has an “A” and “V” in it – meaning it averages out the total value throughout their contract. In contrast, Actual Salary means what they make that year.

Now we said there were two numbers, but there are two more key things to remember:

  • Signing Bonuses – These payments from the team to a player are often included as part of their salary. You can view signing bonuses on CapFriendly in each player’s Cap Hit Breakdown!
  • Performance Bonuses – These are also known as bonuses or incentive-like clauses that will pay out extra money if certain performance thresholds are reached during a season or career.

Read Also; What Is the average salary of an NHL player? 

What Is The Average Salary Cap Percentage

The salary cap percentage limits how much money teams can spend on players’ contracts. The current limit is set at %50 Million. The average salary cap percentage for an NHL team is approximately $85 million. This is for a 30-man roster. 

You may be wondering, how does the NHL payroll compare to other sports leagues? In comparison, the average NBA salary cap percentage is $118 million with a 15-man roster. While this may seem like a large difference in pay between players from each league, it’s important to note that the NHL season itself is significantly shorter than those of both the NBA and NFL. 

An 82-game regular season means that NHL players are paid much less per game than their counterparts in other sports leagues, who play far fewer games per season. Additionally, hockey teams only have 20 players on active rosters at any time (plus two more as backup), limiting their opportunities to earn money during games.

What Is The Average Salary Of An NHL Player?

As you can see, the average NHL player makes quite a bit of money. There is a wide disparity between player salaries. 

The top paid players in the NHL earn around $15 million per year, while the bottom players take home less than $700k.

It’s safe to say that hockey is one of the most lucrative sports for professional athletes. Similar to other pro sports leagues, each NHL team has a salary cap in place to try and balance out competition across the league. 

What Determines The Highest Paid Player? AAV or Actual Salary?

You’ve probably seen the annual NHL salary reports that show a list of the top players in terms of salary. But when it comes to hockey players, there’s more than one way to make money.

Players could earn more than their average salary in a year. So, the highest-paid player could be determined by what the contract reads. 

Average Salary Of An NHL Player Compared To Other Sports

While the average NHL salary is about $3 million, there are other professional sports leagues where players make quite a bit more.

Here’s how the average player salaries compare in these leagues across North America:

League Average Salary

  • NBA $7.6 million
  • MLB $4.6 million
  • NHL $3.1 million
  • NFL $2.6 million


Players in the NHL earn a lot of money annually. The lowest amount an NHLer can get in a year is about $700 000, which is not bad for a year’s work. McConnor, the highest-paid player in the league, goes home with $12.5 million annually. 

However, players could have a contract where they are paid more than their AAV in a year. For Instance, if a contract of $50 million for 5 years is signed. The average annual salary would be $10 million. But some NHLers have contracts that require them to earn more than the average for the first few years and below it in the subsequent years. 

Here is a simple illustration; 

A $50 million contract for 5 years would have an annual average salary of $10 each year for the duration of the contract. However, it could have been like the table below; 

First Year $12.5 million 
Second Year $12.5 million
Third Year $10  million
Fourth Year $7.5 million
Fifth Year $7.5 million

So, that’s a wrap of how NHL players’ salary works. If you were wondering who the highest-paid NHL player is, I believe you know now. 

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