Monday, December 7, 2009

No Surprise: AO Tops Elias Rankings

By Colin Smith

PORTLAND, Maine--There are three things you can count on with Montreal 100’s left winger Alex Ovechkin: he’s going to shoot the puck, he’s going to bang the body, and he’s going to get paid.

No surprise then that the Russian rapscallion is projected to be the World Hockey League’s highest-paid player next year in the Elias Sports Bureau’s first official Player Value Report, which was released Sunday by the bureau’s Portland office.

Ovechkin, who was taken first overall by Montreal in the 2009 WHL draft and received a $99 signing bonus, currently ranks second in the Elias rankings and is projected to earn a slight raise in 2010-11 to $105.10. The next tier of earners--Evgeni Nabokov of the California Kwijibos, Henrik Lundqvist of the Beantown Ball Busters, and Sidney Crosby of the Portland Pints--is currently projected to make $78.10.

Elias, one of the nation’s top statistical companies and the official statistician for a number of professional leagues, was contracted by the WHL following offseason labor negotiations in which owners won the right to retain 5 players from one year to the next. Similar to the Free Agent rankings that the bureau provides for Major League Baseball, Elias’s WHL Player Value Reports are used by arbitrators to determine how much of a raise or pay cut each player will receive. An updated reported is issued at least monthly throughout the season.

Though the season is still young, New Jersey Wall Flowers goaltender Craig Anderson has put himself in a position to earn a hefty raise. Given a $37 bonus as the 94th pick in the draft, Anderson currently sits atop the Elias rankings and could be due as much as $74.80 next season.

Moving in the other direction is Hartford Whalers center Pavel Datsyuk. While Datsyuk has not performed poorly, his numbers are not up to the lofty standards of a third overall pick. He could be facing a nearly $27 pay cut from his $85 bonus if he doesn’t play at an elite level.

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