Which NHL teams have the most expensive defense?

Greg Wyshynski
July 9, 2012
View photos

The Minnesota Wild have seven defensemen under contract for next season. One of them is Ryan Suter, just added $7,538,462 to their overall cap figure. And yet, the Wild have among the NHL's lowest cap hits for their defense: $15,610,961 or almost $9 million less than the San Jose Sharks.

The miracle that is Cap Geek allows for many hours of puckhead diversion; that includes charts that tally up the total cap hits for specific positions on NHL teams — such as on defense.

So which NHL teams besides the San Jose Sharks are loading up on defense? And does a wealthy 'D' mean a better chance at the Cup?

Via Cap Geek, the top paid defenses in the NHL, via the cap:

Team Signed D-men $/Player Total $ to defensemen
San Jose Sharks 7 $3,446,667 $24,126,667
Philadelphia Flyers 8* $3,356,548 $23,495,833
(Tampa Bay Lightning) (8**) ($2,935,268) ($23,482,143)
Chicago Blackhawks 7 $3,334,066 $23,338,461
Vancouver Canucks 7 $3,325,000 $23,275,000
Calgary Flames 8 $2,902,083 $23,216,666
Buffalo Sabres 8 $2,868,125 $22,945,000
Boston Bruins 7 $2,935,476 $20,548,333
Ottawa Senators 6 $3,416,389 $20,498,333
Columbus Blue Jackets 7 $2,912,687 $20,388,810
Florida Panthers 6 $3,377,979 $20,267,875

* The Flyers' number was inflated by Chris Pronger's $4,921,429 against the cap; since we don't expect him to play next season, we've subtracted that from the original total ($28,417,262).

** The Tampa Bay Lightning's totals are listed here for the eight defensemen currently under contract; take off injured D-man Mattias Ohlund, and the total drops to $19,875,000 for seven players, or an average of $2,839,286 per defenseman.

Seven of those 11 teams made the playoffs last season, although six of them lost in the first round. Only the Philadelphia Flyers went on to skate another day.

Not counting Pronger, the Flyers' blue line features three players that make $4 million or more against the cap: Kimmo Timonen ($6,333,333), Braydon Coburn ($4.5 million) and Andrej Mezaros ($4 million). The Sharks have two defensemen making over $5.7 million: Dan Boyle ($6,666,667) and Brent Burns ($5,760,000). The Blackhawks don't have a defenseman under contract making less than $1.12 million dollars.

If we filter it down to the top average salaries for defensemen, it looks like this. (Unlike in our chart, Pronger's salary is factored in here.)

Now, what if we factor in goaltenders into the defensive cost analysis? (No Pronger here.)

There are some teams that drop off, and some that hop into the top 10.

Team Signed Goalies/Defensemen Totals for D/G
Vancouver Canucks 9 $32,608,333
Philadelphia Flyers 9 $30,062,500
Calgary Flames 10 $29,912,499
Buffalo Sabres 10 $29,870,000
San Jose Sharks 9 $28,514,167
Chicago Blackhawks 9 $27,155,128
Tampa Bay Lightning 10 $26,582,143
Edmonton Oilers 10 $25,966,666
Montreal Canadiens 8 $25,900,000
New Jersey Devils 9 $25,141,667

Jumping onto the list are the Edmonton Oilers, with $7.25 million tied up between Devan Dubnyk and Nikolai Khabibulin; the New Jersey Devils, with $5.9 million shared between Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg; and the Montreal Canadiens, who just broke the bank on Carey Price ($6.5 million) and still have PK Subban to pay.

Hey now: Where are the New York Rangers and Henrik "$6,875,000 against the cap" Lundqvist in all of this?

Near the bottom of the League:

The Rangers currently have five defensemen under contract, with Michael Del Zotto out there as an RFA. They also have Ryan McDonagh on his rookie deal, and he'll get paid pretty soon.

As for the Nashville Predators ... well, one imagines their costs won't rise by $7,538,462 this summer.

Any surprises on these lists?