Highest KHL salaries list leaks, with Kovalchuk and Datsyuk on top

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The Kontinental Hockey League has earned the reputation through the years as a place where players will get paid. Sometimes that payment would literally be a paper bag full of dollar bills left near a locker. Sometimes that payment would be in oodles of “bonus money” to get around salary cap issues.

Sportfakt, a Russian sports news site, has published a list of what it claims are the KHL’s top salaries. (Big thanks to Aivis Kalniņš for the pointer.)

Its motivation? That Russian sports leadership has “declared the need to reduce costs on professional sport.” So it decided to look into it.

Here’s the top 20, according to the site. The first number is U.S. dollars; the second is Rubles.

1 – Ilya Kovalchuk SKA 5,500,000 dollars / 330 million. Rubles

2 – Pavel Datsyuk SKA 4,500,000 dollars / 270 million. Rubles

3 – Vyacheslav Voinov SKA 4,500,000 dollars / 270 million. Rubles

4 – Vladimir Sobotka Vanguard 3,000,000 dollars / 180 million. Rubles

5 – Vasily Koshechkin Metallurg Mg 2,419,000 million dollars / 145 million. Rubles

6 – Sergey Mozyakin Metallurg Mg 2,177,000 million dollars / 130 million. Rubles

7 – Vadim Shipachev SKA 2,000,000 dollars / 120 million. Rubles

8 – Mikhail Varnakov Ak Bars 1,700,000 dollars / 102 million. Rubles

9 – Anton Belov SKA 1,500,000 dollars / 90 million. Rubles

10 – Danis Zaripov Metallurg Mg 1,500,000 dollars / 90 million. Rubles

11 – Andrei Zubarev SKA 1,500,000/90 mln. Rubles

12 – Alexander Salak Siberia 1,500,000 / 90 million. Rubles

13 – Alexander Svitov Ak Bars 1,500,000 dollars / 90 million. Rubles

14 – Maxim Chudinov SKA 1,500,000 dollars / 90 million. Rubles

15 – Egor Yakovlev SKA 1,500,000 dollars / 90 million. Rubles

16 – Evgeny Dadonov SKA 1,400,000 dollars / 84 million. Rubles

17 – Alexander Perezhogin Vanguard 1,400,000 dollars / 84 million. Rubles

18 – Mikko Koskinen SKA 1,300,000 dollars / 78 million. Rubles

19 – Stéphane Da Costa CSKA 1,300,000 dollars / 78 million. Rubles

20 – Niklas Svedberg Salavat Yulaev 1,300,000 dollars / 78 million. Rubles

A few notes on this list:

* Additional players in the top 30 reported salaries are Viktor Tikhonov (SKA, $1.3 million) and Valery Nichushkin (CSK, $1.21 million). Again, please recall this list does not include bonus money.

* There are several discrepancies between this list and some of the contract information we’ve previously had on these players. Pavel Datsyuk is listed at 270 million rubles here; it was 250 million rubles when the Free Press reported on his signing with the KHL. Kovalchuck’s salary was previously reported at $10.3 million and Mozyakin at $4.2 million; but that might have been with the bonuses included. Sobotka’s numbers also don’t sync up. But hey, it’s the KHL – solid info isn’t easy to come by.

* We’re not saying that there’s a certain financial or talent disparity in the KHL, but FOURTEEN of the top 30 salaries in the League come from one team – SKA, the de facto practice squad of the Russian national team.

* Not a whole bunch of North American players on that list, is there? Weird to think Steve Moses doesn’t rank in the Top 30.

* Again, keep in mind this list is without bonus money. And guys like Kovalchuk didn’t make the leap for that base salary, folks.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.