The KHL has long been labelled a place where fringe NHLers can go to get a bigger opportunity and paycheck. However, a report by KHL writer Aivis Kalniņš suggests that might not be the case.
Kalniņš tweeted a list of the top 30 player salaries in the KHL this season, and the salaries have a much lower ceiling and drop off quite quickly. The top 30 in the KHL add up to a shade over $55MM, while the NHL’s top 30 cap hits amount to an astounding $291.15MM.
Here are some notable names on the list, and comparable salaries in the NHL. It is important to note that Kalniņš’ list does not include bonuses, which could bump many of the numbers up. All numbers are from Kalniņš or Cap Friendly.
- Former NHL superstar Ilya Kovalchuk tops the list at $5.5MM. There are 99 NHLers making more than Kovalchuk. Some NHL players with that cap hit include John Tavares, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Tyson Barrie, Andrew Ladd, Andrej Sekera, and Jeff Petry.
- Recently-retired NHL star Pavel Datsyuk cashes in at $4.5MM. NHLers in that range include Max Pacioretty, Nazem Kadri, Anton Stralman, and Brad Marchand (in the last year of his previous deal before his new extension kicks in)
- Former NHL defenseman Slava Voynov also makes $4.5MM. Voynov left the NHL in 2014 after being arrested for felony domestic violence. He was recently ruled ineligible to take part in the World Cup because of his history.
- Former St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka makes $3MM in the KHL, only marginally more than he would earn in the NHL. Sobotka owes the Blues one season at $2.725MM, as part of the contract he signed in 2014 before departing to the KHL. Evgeni Kuznetsov, Andrew Cogliano, Martin Jones, and Tomas Hertl are notable NHL comparisons.
- Vadim Shipachyov and Yevgeni Dadonov come in at $2MM and $1.4MM respectively. The two men played with Artemi Panarin before Panarin signed in Chicago last summer, and have many teams interested in bringing them to the NHL for next season.
- A pair of NHL RFAs in Valeri Nichushkin and Alexander Khokhlachev come in at $1.21MM and $1.2MM. In the NHL, this is bottom-six forward, third-pairing defense, and backup goaltender range. While their salaries rank 24th and 25th in the KHL, this would put them 445th and 446th in the NHL.
The KHL has never released player salaries. Kalniņš speculates that this reveal could lead to full disclosure about KHL salaries. While some NHL teams are beginning to release numbers, most of what we know is based on reports from insiders.