Paying professional athletes too much in this day and age cripples a franchise. In the NHL it puts a strain on the cap and doesn’t allow a team to add pieces it needs. To be fair, professional sports contracts are a tricky thing. It is hard to predict the future especially when it comes to the play of NHL players. There have been plenty who have had one great season, signed a large contract then proceeded to do nothing else. Many players live up to expectations but there are a few whose contract signings leave fans scratching their heads in wonder. Bad contracts have somehow become a part of the NHL despite owners and general managers having to be more prudent due to the salary cap. If nothing else it becomes entertaining for everyone except fans of that team.
Here are my top 10 worst contracts in the NHL:
10) Ryan Suter: Signed by – Minnesota Wild in 2012. Value – $98 million/13 years. I hate to judge a contract before a guy has even played a minute for the team but…. A case of a team overpaying to try and become competitive. He is certainly a solid defenseman though definitely not worth the cap hit of $7.5 million per year. Also the term of the contract is way too long. I think Minnesota will end up regretting this signing.
9) Roberto Luongo: Signed by – Vancouver Canucks in 2010. Value – $64 million/12 years. It is not really the money but the term of the contract in this particular case. Though it hasn’t helped that Luongo, a talented goalie, has proven himself to be unstable in important moments. Due to his letting in bad goals at inopportune times and choking during the playoffs he has pretty much been run out of Vancouver. Luongo still has some good years left in him but it will be with another team. Long term contracts for over 30 goaltenders is never a good idea.
8) Vincent Lecavalier: Signed by – Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009. Value – $85 million/10 years. At a cap hit of $7.2 million per season the former Maurice Richard Award (most goals) winner has not given his team the bang for their buck. Since signing his extension with the Lightning he has not scored more than 25 goals in a season. Lecavalier is signed though the 2020-21 season and is now 32-years-old.
7) Illya Bryzgalov: Signed by – Philadelphia Flyers in 2011. Value – $51 million/9 years. The Philadelphia Flyers have had problems in nets for around a decade and as such were quite desperate to get their hands on a quality netminder. Due to that they traded Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to other teams to clear cap space in order to sign free agent Bryzgalov. The former Phoenix Coyote was regarded as a solid but unproven goalie. In his first season with Philadelphia it seemed like they won despite Bryzgalov’s unsteady play. He did win 33 regular season games but was not of the quality they expected. His play was so poor that there have been rumours about the Flyers buying out his contract. It might be too early to consider him a bust as he has 8 years left to prove his worth.
6) Mike Komisarek: Signed by – Toronto Maple Leafs in 2009. Value – $22.5 million/5 years. He has accumulated 19 points over the past 3 seasons. That is certainly not the production you would expect of a guy earning an average of $4.5 million. I’m sure the Leafs would love to trade this guy but because of his salary he is basically untradeable.
5) Ville Leino: Signed by – Buffalo Sabres in 2011. Value – $27 million/6 years. The Buffalo Sabres really overpaid for this free agent. He had a solid season in Philadelphia in 2010-11 but is in no way worth the almost $5 million per year they are paying him. The new owner was trying to impress upon the fans that he was willing to spend money to make the Sabres competitive but he spent his money unwisely. The Finnish defenseman has only 30 goals over the four years of his career.
4) Rick DiPietro: Signed by – New York Islanders in 2005. Value – $67.5 million/15 years. The $4.5 million per year is not a bad deal for the Islanders at first glance it is just bad because of the frequency of injury for the goaltender. DiPietro has only played two full seasons so far so it is hard to tell if he is a good goaltender. So often injured he has only played 47 games since the 2008-09 season with an awful 14-24-7 record. With concussion, hip and knee injuries he has been out of the lineup more than he is in. He is now 30-years-old and is signed until the 2020-21 season when he will be 39. Not likely that he will be less injury prone as he gets older.
3) Wade Redden: Signed by – New York Rangers in 2008. Value: $39 million/6 years. Everyone knew that towards the end of Redden’s time with Ottawa that he was a player in decline. Everyone it seems except the Rangers. Once he signed with the New York Rangers his numbers continued to plummet. Redden began to spend most of his time on the bench or in the press box. A couple of seasons ago he was sent down to the AHL and wasn’t brought back up. By 2010 he was permanently in the AHL making him the highest paid player in that league’s history. He is signed through 2014 and the Rangers have decided to handle it by sending him home with the instruction that they don’t want him plus he cannot play for anyone else. This means that they will most likely buy out the rest of his contract after this season.
2) Scott Gomez: Signed by – New York Rangers in 2007. Value – $51.5 million/7 years. A nice enough guy but never worth the money he was signed for and that placed unreasonable expectations on him. After being a productive player for several years for the New Jersey Devils the New York Rangers signed the diminutive centreman to a long-term contract prior to the 2007-08 season. He was a big disappointment on Broadway for the two seasons he was there and he still had five years left on his contract. Somehow the Rangers were able to get the Montreal Canadiens to take Gomez off their hands via a trade that brought them Christopher Higgins and (more importantly) Ryan McDonagh. Things went even worse for Scott Gomez while playing for the bleu, blanc, rouge. His first season he scored only 12 goals, the next it declined to 7 and last year (an injury plagued season) he only had 2 goals. Gomez went through an especially dry period where it was over a calendar year between goals for him. This meant that he was getting $3.75 million per goal. This season Montreal has decided to cut their losses with him and told him to stay home (not play for anyone) and that they would buy him out at the end of the season.
1) Alexei Yashin: Signed by – New York Islanders in 2001. Value – $87.5 million/10 years. Even though he had scored an average of 38 goals per season during his time with Ottawa there were doubts about his dedication to hockey. The New York Islanders ignored this and proceeded to sign an 28-year-old to a 10 year contract. During his time with the Islanders his production declined rapidly. It got so bad that during the 2003-04 season he only scored 15 goals. The contract crippled the Islanders and made him untradeable. After a few more seasons of much frustration the Islanders bought out the remainder of his contract to the tune of $17.63 million but the team will have to suffer a cap hit of $3.2 million until the 2015 season.