The Influence of Canadian Players in the NHL

Updated: 417 Ice Hockey

Of the 871 players that are currently listed on hockey reference, 364 of them are proud to display Canadian nationality

The Influence of Canadian Players in the NHL

Elsa // Getty Images

Noah Strang Hockey Editor

Noah Strang is OLBG's Hockey Expert. He has written about Hockey for some of the Worlds top publications and worked as an accredited NHL media correspondent.

Although the NHL has become far more cosmopolitan in recent years, is it still a competition that is rooted within North America. With 25 franchises currently based in the United States and seven in Canada, you would think the majority of players come from the former.

However, that assumption would be incorrect. After carrying out an analysis on each of the 2022/23 season rosters, it is the latter that has the single biggest national representation 

Of the 871 players that are currently listed on hockey reference, 364 of them are proud to display Canadian nationality. A figure that equates to 41.79% - or for every five players in the NHL at the time of writing, two of them are Canadian.

NHL Awards Betting Odds 2022 - Odds & Predictions

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While in comparison to the representation that comes from Canada, 243 players are flying the flag for the United States at the time of writing. At 27.9% of the total NHL player pool, just over one quarter represent Uncle Sam.

Were you to add the two percentages together, 69.69% of the NHL’s registered players for 2022/23 would be North American 30.19% would be based within Europe’s vast landmass and 0.12% would be represented by Asia. 

Of every seven players that are North American, three of them are European. The biggest individual European representation comes from Sweden with 81 (9.3% players currently plying their trade in the NHL. While Russia and Finland have exported 50 (5.74%) players each in joint fourth. 

As for the full breakdown of nationalities, this is displayed in the table below: 

Flag Count % Split
Canada 365 41.86%
United States 243 27.87%
Sweden 81 9.29%
Russia 50 5.73%
Finland 50 5.73%
Czech Rep 35 4.01%
Switzerland 11 1.26%
Slovakia 8 0.92%
Germany 7 0.80%


Now that we know the breakdown of nationalities, we want to know if Canadian players earn the most money.. After going back to the same hockey reference website and analysing all the current Cap Hit data, here is what we found (All figures in US Dollars)

Player Flag Cap Hit Team
Connor McDavid Canada 12,500,000 Edmonton
Artemi Panarin Russia 11,642,857 New York Rangers
Auston Matthews United States 11,640,250 Toronto
Erik Karlsson Sweden 11,500,000 San Jose
Drew Doughty Canada 11,000,000 Los Angeles
John Tavares Canada 11,000,000 Toronto
Mitch Marner Canada 10,903,000 Toronto
Aleksander Barkov Finland 10,000,000 Florida
Anze Kopitar Slovenia 10,000,000 Los Angeles

Of the top 11 players with the highest current Cap Hit in the NHL, four of them have a Canadian passport. While the top league earner at the time of writing is none other than Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. 

At a figure of $12.5m, there is no doubt that he receives plenty of remuneration for his efforts on the ice and after earning first pick in the 2015 NHL draft, the 26-year-old’s career and earning ability has since skyrocketed.

While you must drop down to joint fifth for the next two Canadian names on the list, as none other than Drew Doughty and John Tavares can be found. Their current Cap Hit stands at $11m each and this is just $97k more than compatriot Mitch Marner who finds himself a position below in seventh.

Of course, we should not only look at the top 11 in terms of earning power. Where we carried out a nationality split at the beginning of the article, we can also now look at the total earnings per nation.

With Canada having nearly 400 players that are in the NHL at present, it comes as no surprise that they command the largest total earnings. At just short of $735m in one year, the 364 individual stars command an average salary of just over $2m.

While in comparison to this, the USA’s 243 players earn a combined total of $535. A figure that means an average of $2.2m. Although that is not the largest average of the top five nations. With Sweden amassing $212m by comparison, their 81 players earn an average of $2.6m. 

If we factor in each nation that provides at least 10 players to the NHL, it is Switzerland that finds itself at the top of the average earnings league. 11 players in total earn a combined $29.7m or $2.7m each.

Full total and average earnings below: 

Flag Count % Split Total Earnings Average Earnings
Canada 365 41.86% 735,019,611 2,013,752
United States 243 27.87% 535,198,375 2,202,462
Sweden 81 9.29% 212,244,300 2,620,300
Russia 50 5.73% 128,637,500 2,572,750
Finland 50 5.73% 102,080,000 2,041,600
Czech Rep 35 4.01% 75,295,000 2,151,286
Switzerland 11 1.26% 29,782,500 2,707,500
Slovakia 8 0.92% 9,217,500 1,152,188
Germany 7 0.80% 12,915,000 1,845,000

Of course, there is another angle we can look at and this is the Canadian representation by each franchise. If we take each of the 364 players that fly this particular flag, the spread across the 32 is as follows: 

Team Canada Franchise Nationality
Montreal 22 Canada
Edmonton 21 Canada
Las Vegas 20 United States
Toronto 17 Canada
St Louis 16 United States
Seattle 15 United States
Colorado 14 United States
Florida 13 United States
Arizona 13 United States

At the top of the table is the Montreal Canadiens, as they currently have 22 Canadian players on their roster and hot on their heels are the Edmonton Oilers, as they are one short at 21. With two Canadian franchises topping the standings, it is the Las Vegas Golden Knights in third.

The Golden Knights are the American franchise that offers a home to the most Canadian players at the time of writing. No less than 20 are currently residing in the place otherwise known as Sin City and this is four more than the Toronto Maple Leafs and the St Louis Blues in fourth.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Canadian franchise with the smallest representation of Canadian players is the Vancouver Canucks with nine players, while three franchises have the joint-lowest representation at an American franchise.

With the Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers only offering employment to six Canadian players per franchise, their focus is placed elsewhere. While this also poses one final question – what is the percent split between players at Canadian or American franchises? 

Franchise Nationality Count % Split
Canada 100 27.40%
United States 265 72.60%
Total 365 100.00%

Of the 364 players that are representing Canada in the NHL, 265 of those are playing across the border in the United States. While the other 99 are collecting their salary from a franchise based in the same country.

When you consider that 21% (7 from 32) of all the NHL franchises are based in Canada, there is a slight transfer of representation from here to the United States when it comes to player personnel. A figure that highlights the demand for Canadian stars.  


All nationality and salary data taken from

Not all players have salary data offered and will be flagged as N/A - totals only based from salary information that has been made available on the website. 

Author Information

Andrew Powell manages our hockey analysis articles, meticulously updating the data whilst our Vancouver-based hockey specialist Noah Strang writes the words. Together they maintain all the stateside hockey content for OLBG

Noah Strang

Noah Strang

Hockey editor

🥅🏒 Our stateside Hockey specialist, Noah knows just about all there is to know about the NHL and covers the NHL for various publications in Canada - Our go-to guy for our Hockey content.
Andy Powell

Andy Powell

Content editor

Andy also possesses a keen interest in American sports with a particular affinity for the NFL and the NHL. He follows the Pittsburgh Penguins, emphasizing his broad palette for diversified sporting events.

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