By Glenn Kaplan, Columnist
The NHL isn’t known for superstars receiving big contracts. If a player gets $7-8 million a season, it is considered a very big contract. Center Auston Matthews recently signed a five-year contract extension worth $11.634 million per season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Center Connor McDavid, center John Tavares, center Anze Kopitar, center Jack Eichel, right winger Patrick Kane and goalie Carey Price are some of the other players in the league that are getting paid at least $10 million or more a season.
Winnipeg Jets right winger Patrik Laine will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. He could be the next player that receives this sort of pay day. Matthews was the first pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. Laine went with the next pick.
This happens because the cap space for every team around the NHL is going up. The NHL cap space for the 2018-2019 season is $79.5 million. According to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, cap space for the 2019-2020 is expected to be $83 million.
We will see more superstars getting paid this kind of money because it is what players and their agents are going to demand, especially if they are producing elite numbers year in and year out.
Wingers Alex Ovechkin, Nikita Kucherov and Brad Marchand and centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are premier stars in the league, but they aren’t even getting paid double figures a season.
The salary cap wasn’t as high when they signed their contracts. If all of those players were free agents at the end of the season, there is no doubt they would be getting paid significantly higher..
Center Mathew Barzal and right winger Sebastian Aho are also young superstars in the league that will need big time contracts.
Left winger Johnny Gaudreau is under contract until after the 2021-2022 season. It is possible he will get a $10 million or higher contract and he will be in the prime of his career.
Center Nathan MacKinnon is under contract until after the 2022-2023 season. He will also enter the prime of his career and MacKinnon could also receive a large deal as well.
Right winger Mikko Rantanen will be a restricted free agent for the Colorado Avalanche at the end of the season. He deserves $7-$8 million a season. Rantanen has the potential to get $10 million a season, but he shouldn’t get one before Nathan MacKinnon does.
The New Jersey Devils need to give left winger Taylor Hall a contract extension. He deserves those figures because Hall is one of the best players in the league when he is healthy. New Jersey needs to give him the money in order for him to stay long term.
Matthews’ contract has opened the door for several other superstars to get paid big bucks when the time comes for them. Teams are also going to overpay for superstars because of this.