If the play-by-play of an NHL game were delivered in financial language, it might sound something like this:
“The defenceman making a league average $3 million dollars a year starts up the ice and headmans the puck to the left-winger. He’s good for $3.5 million and, oh baby, look at him go! The opposing defence is in position all right, but it doesn’t matter—that aging defenceman and his inflated $6 million paycheque are like pylons out there. The winger spots his wide open centre. What a pass! Tape to tape, folks! The $9 million centre cuts in and takes a shot! For the league minimum $500,000, the rookie puck stopper makes an acrobatic save with his left pad! Rebound! There’s the right winger! He jumps on it and slams the puck into the wide open goal, $2 million salary justified! And would you listen to this, folks! The fans—who paid an average of $200 for tickets, $40 for snacks and $20 for parking—are going wild!”
Canadian Business Online’s Puck Money starts from the premise that, memories of sepia-toned pick-up games aside, professional hockey is big business. A player’s value is determined by how far, and how often, he rises above the ordinary player to dominate the game. Those whose prowess is exceptional can earn tens of millions of dollars over their career and help the franchises for which they play generate hundreds of millions in ticket sales and TV revenue.
But shift after shift, year after year, are these players really worth their high-flying paycheques? With some statistics we can measure a player’s performance, season by season, and determine whether they out- or underperform their peers.
Young players who stand out from the pack tend to be quickly rewarded—witness Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer whose salary has risen from the league-minimum $500K to $2.2 million after only 37 games in the NHL. At the other end of the scale, veterans with hefty salaries will find themselves prematurely retired if they can’t live up to their fat paycheques.
NHL franchises can be similarly judged: A team with the highest payroll doesn’t necessarily guarantee a winning team and the poorest performing teams are not a bargain for fans who pay to attend their games.
What Puck Money does is quantify player performance and salaries, ranking the most valuable players by the dollar. We crunch the numbers on compensation and on-ice stats but also compensate for how strong or weak a player’s team is. Read our methodology to find out how we determine the most valuable goalies, forwards and defencemen.
And there’s more. Beyond our rankings, we also survey the business landscape of the NHL. Specifically, in “Canada’s Team: The Phoenix Coyotes?,” we examine the odd economics of the NHL whereby Canadian taxpayers fund struggling southern U.S. teams. In “The NHL in 2025” we examine how the future NHL can flourish in Canada if it adopts a different business strategy.
On the lighter side, we attempt to answer one endless fan argument: How would the stars of the past fare in the NHL of today? With some mathematical tinkering and graphic massaging, we propel Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull and Bobby Orr into the present. Read on and see how they do, head-to-head against Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Keith Duncan.
And the Puck Money top value forward is….
Playing in his second full season in the NHL, he recorded career-highs in goals (25) and assists (51) for 76 points which ranked him 13th overall in league scoring. And he did it all for a mere $765,000. For those of you who don’t have a calculator handy, that’s $10,065.79 per point. Can you guess who he is? From SportsNet
The NHL in 2025
The NHL’s southern expansion strategy maybe doomed; here is what could happen if the league looked north.
Canada’s Team: The Phoenix Coyotes?
The way the NHL is structured means Canadian taxpayers are bank-rolling struggling U.S. hockey teams. Can the NHL’s new NBC deal save hockey in America?
Methodology: How we compiled the rankings
NHL players have huge ranges in salaries and the opportunities to amass statistics also varies. Here is how we equalized all the players stats for comparison.
Fan Value Index
The Puck Money Fan Value Index rates the franchises for cost and on-ice performance to determine which team offers the best fan experience. The winner? It sure isn’t resident of the Air Canada Centre. From SportsNet