Report: Kovalchuk, Datsyuk are KHL’s top earners, Radulov turned down $7-million deal

KHL contract information is generally hard to come by, but a report out of Russia ran down the top 30 earners in the KHL and revealed some interesting details about Montreal Canadiens winger Alexander Radulov.
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Unlike the NHL where salary information is often announced by teams and reporters, the KHL has generally kept contract details under wraps. While fans may know the length of a contract or of the inclusion of any out-clauses, it’s been hard to really pin down any salaries. That is until now.

Russian outlet Sportfakt reported the top-30 salaries in the primarily Russian league, and four of the top five earners in the KHL are former NHLers, according to the list. Topped by Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk, Slava Voynov and Vladimir Sobotka, the salary range of the top 30 spans from $5.5 million to $1.05 million. 

While the top earners’ salaries pale in comparison to those of their North American counterparts, it’s worth remembering that these are only base salary figures and don’t include any potential bonuses or endorsements. Here’s the complete list, per Sportfakt:

via Sportfakt

via Sportfakt

The list makes it quite easy to tell which teams have the most money to burn, and it’s no surprise to find SKA St. Petersburg atop the KHL’s Western Conference — and the entire league, for that matter — with the money they’ve spent on talent.

Sportfakt outlined some interesting facts about the list, too. According to the outlet, if the same list would have been published five years earlier, it would have featured several members of Salavat Yulaev Ufa topping the ranks, and were this list to have been released during the 2008-09 campaign Jaromir Jagr’s $8 million salary would have been No. 1.

Jagr’s $8 million salary with Avangard Omsk made him the top paid player in KHL history, or it did until the 2013-14 campaign. That season, Alexander Radulov, who recently left the KHL for another chance in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens, earned $8 million in base salary. As incredible as that may be, it’s not even the most intriguing thing about Radulov that Sportfakt revealed.

In addition to Radulov sharing the league record for salary with Jagr, it was reported that the Canadiens winger would have been atop the 2016-17 salary list had he decided to remain in the KHL instead of leaving for North America. According to Sportfakt, CSKA Moscow was set to pay Radulov $7 million this season — $1.5 million more than the next highest paid player, Kovalchuk — but he decided instead to take a shot at returning to the NHL.

Radulov’s one-year, $5.75-million deal with Montreal is far less than he was set to earn in the KHL, but he has can earn himself a raise if he can translate his KHL performances over the past several seasons to the NHL this season. 

There’s no certainty he can do so and it may seem like a big gamble to take, but it’s probably made all the easier for Radulov given he appears to have himself a multi-million dollar backup plan. 

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