P.K. Subban and the EA Sports cover bump

Scott Lewis

If you’re a social media-friendly hockey fan then you’ve probably had your fill from the likes of P.K. Subban, Drew Doughty, T.J. Oshie, and Patrice Bergeron, and their respective teams lobbying for their chance to land on the cover of EA Sports’ NHL 15 video game. While all four cover vote finalists would love to have their likeness replicated on the box art for the upcoming release, there may be a little more incentive for Subban to incite support from his fans via Twitter. Subban is due for a new contract this summer, and recent history shows NHL cover boys see their salary climb north following a turn on the cover.

Since the beginning of the salary cap era, Vincent Lecavalier, Alexander Ovechkin, Eric Staal, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos, and Claude Giroux have all graced the cover of an NHL video game and received a significant pay raise shortly after the honor. Dion Phaneuf was on the cover of NHL 09, but signed a lucrative six-year extension with the Calgary Flames the season prior. NHL 14 cover honoree Martin Brodeur will be in pursuit of a new contract this summer, but it’s unlikely the 42-year old will be in line for a raise.

Here’s a look at the aforementioned players and the money they’ve made pre and post video game cover.

PlayerCover YearPre-cover cap hitPost-cover cap hit (year signed)
Vincent LecavalierNHL 06$2.635 M$6.875 M (August 2005)
Alexander OvechkinNHL 07$984,200$9.538 M (January 2008)
Eric Staal NHL 08$4.5 M$8.25 M (September 2008)
Dion PhaneufNHL 09$6.5 M$6.5 M (February 2008)
Patrick KaneNHL 10$875,000$6.3 M (December 2009)
Jonathan ToewsNHL 11$850,000$6.3 M (December 2009)*
Steven StamkosNHL 12$875,000$7.5 M (July 2011)
Claude GirouxNHL 13$3.75 M$8.275 M (July 2013)

*Toews signed a five-year extension in December of 2009, which kicked in to begin the 2010-11 season

Obviously the skill and production of our crop of cover athletes meant more to their earning power than the NHL series did, but laying claim to a video game cover certainly doesn’t hurt bargaining power. More effective marketing equals more game sales which, in turn, equals more revenue for the league and its players.

Subban and his camp have gone as far as offering tickets to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final to one lucky fan over Twitter. In the midst of endless hashtag promotion and overbearing campaign calls from several teams’ official Twitter accounts, it’s easy to see why the race to grace the cover of NHL 15 is so heated. It means more promotional opportunities.

For Subban, in particular, the NHL 15 cover represents yet another feather in his cap to take into negotiations this summer. Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin played the waiting game with Subban last fall, and brought the Norris Trophy winner back on a two-year $5.75 million deal. He’s a year removed from the NHL’s best defenseman honors and looking at a puncher’s chance at helping the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Final.  With a career-best 53-point season in 2013-14, a significant payday is coming for Subban.

The coveted NHL 15 cover spot might not rank among the most remarkable of Subban’s achievements, but it would serve as symbol of his marketability as an NHL superstar.