The one element that may go under the radar after Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup is that the netminder may be the most underpaid winner of so much hockey hardware.
At the beginning of the season Puck Money names the most valuable players in the league by the amount of money they are paid. Our methodology normalizes the players’ stats and compensates if they are playing on a top or bottom team.
Quick led the league during the regular season with 10 shutouts along with a 1.95 goals against average and was a major force in the Kings’ playoff run. In addition to winning to a Cup ring and the Conn Smythe Trophy for the best player in the playoffs, he is also the leading candidate for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league’s best goalie.
All that for a measly US$1.9 million a year.
Now, $1.9 million may sound quite enough to you but not when you compare it with Quick’s peers. Veteran Martin Brodeur, who faced Quick in the finals, made $5.2 million while Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks, whom Quick vanquished in the first round, made $10 million. Also bearing mention in the performance versus pay category is Miikka Kiprusoff ($7.75M), Ryan Miller ($6.2M) and Niklas Bäckström ($6.0M), none of whose teams made the playoffs at all.
Quick is only in his fourth year in the league. Like all salaries, his is determined by his years in the league, his past performance and the going rate for his position. While he was a highly promising goalie when he signed a three-year contract two years ago, few could have predicted his competitive drive that achieved a GAA of 1.41 in the playoffs.
Quick is in the final year of his contract but we suspect the Kings may wish to reward him earlier with a new contract that justifies his performance. Of course it’ll be much harder to be the most valuable NHL goalie for the dollar when your earnings more than double, which could easily happen to Quick.
Puck Money’s top pick among forwards had a similarly successful season but had a disappointing end in the playoffs. The Philadelphia Flyers’ Claude Giroux made almost the equivalent of the NHL’s minimum wage at the end of the 2010-11 season at $770,000 before being given a three-year contract at the beginning of this season for $3.75 million.
While Giroux was among the highest-scoring players in the league in both the regular season and the playoffs, he received a one-game suspension for a check to the head of Dainius Zubrus in game five against the New Jersey Devils. Without Giroux, the Flyers season came to an end quickly while the Devils eventually went on to the Stanley Cup finals.
One more Puck Money pick worth mentioning is Anze Kopitar who was selected centre on our best-value all-star team. He tied as top scorer in the playoffs along with teammate Dustin Brown.