Financial analysis

It’s safe to say, in my opinion, that San Jose’s Mike Grier, at right, is an average player. The numbers bear that out.

Not his statistical numbers, mind you. But his financial numbers.

Thanks to The Hockey News’ annual Bucks & Pucks feature, which provides the average salaries of 705 NHL players, running the numbers has provided some interesting insights. Hence, when the average salary of an NHL player is $1.77 million ($1,247.1 billion divided by 705), and Grier will make $1.75 million, I won’t lose a wink of sleep by calling him average.

The financial analysis, which rounds figures up (5-9) or down (0-4) and is highly unscientific, doesn’t stop there. In fact, some of it is downright surprising, namely in how some teams once associated with thriftiness have busted open their banks:

Top team total average salaries for 2006-07:
New Jersey Devils: $48.4 million
Boston Bruins: $46.8 million
Colorado Avalanche, Philadelphia Flyers (tie): $43.9 million
(NHL average is $41.6 million)

Top team average player salaries:
New Jersey Devils: $2.1 million
Buffalo Sabres: $2 million
Boston Bruins: $1.95 million

On the flip side, there are some familiar names among teams with the lowest payrolls:

Washington Capitals: $30.9 million (average salary of $1.29 million)
Pittsburgh Penguins: $33.2 million (an average salary of $1.44 million)
Nashville Predators: 38.2 million (average salary of $1.6 million)

To me, the most interesting analysis came about when comparing a team’s top three average salaries against the total team salary. Talk about putting all of your eggs in one basket:

Tampa Bay’s Big Three Brad Richards ($7.8 million), Vinny Lecavalier ($6.88 million) and Martin St. Louis ($5.25 million) will be paid a combined $19.93 million this season, a handsome sum that eats up a whopping 47.8 percent of the Lightning’s total payroll of $41.7 million.

Out west, in Anaheim, top three Scott Neidermayer ($6.75 million), Chris Pronger ($6.25 million) and Teemu Selanne ($6 million) will get a combined $19 million, representing a 45.5 percent slice of the Ducks’ total $41.8 million pie.

And in further proof that Bill Wirtz should sell his Chicago team, Nikolai Khabibulin ($6.75 million), Martin Havlat ($6 million) and Adrian Aucoin ($4 million) combine for $16.75 million, a 41.6 percent share of the Blackhawks’ $40.3 million payroll.

On the low end, Edmonton spreads out the NHL’s lowest top-three combined salaries ($11.37 million) to Ales Hemsky ($4.1 million), Dwayne Roloson ($3.67 million) and Shawn Horcoff ($3.6 million). That is just 29.3 percent of the small-market Oilers’ $39.2 million team payroll.

The $11.67 million that Buffalo will dole out to Daniel Briere ($5 million), Jaroslav Spacek ($3.33 million) and Maxim Afinogenov ($3.33 million) this season represents just 26.6 percent of the Sabres’ $43.9 million salary bill.

Finally (and I do appreciate if you’ve read this far), the New York Rangers, the NHL's former ATM, are set to pay Jaromir Jagr ($4.94 million), Brendan Shanahan ($4 million) and Martin Straka ($3.1 million) a total of $12.04 million, which represents only 28.2 percent of the Blueshirts’ $42.7 million salary.


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