Here are the 10 best and worst non-entry level contracts that the Nashville Predators have signed since the salary cap was introduced in 2005. All of these were signed by David Poile, and all buyouts were also by Poile. The first thing you notice is how good he’s been at getting skilled RFA defensemen to sign low ball contracts coming out of entry level. His best contracts are more good than his worst contracts are bad, which probably has a lot to do with how long Poile has managed to keep his job.
And yes, salary cap inflation is accounted for.
1- Shea Weber, June 23 2008, 3 years $13.5M: The Preds got roughly $7M AAV of production for $4.5M AAV over 3 seasons. Among the reasons Poile was able to get such a sweet deal, Weber had suffered a series of leg injuries in the last year of his entry level contract.
2- Roman Josi, June 10 2013, 7 years $28M: This is one of the best bargains in the NHL right now and probably makes the list for 10 best NHL contracts since 2005. His points per game almost doubled from the last year of his entry level to the 2nd year of this contract. I guess his agent didn’t expect he’d be as good as he’s become. This contract cost his client millions of dollars going 7 years for that low number.
3- Pekka Rinne, Feb 24 2010, 2 years $6.8M: At the end of this contract Rinne became the highest paid goalie in the NHL. He had 76 wins, 40 losses, and a Vezina trophy nomination for $6.8M. He also won 11 playoff games.
4- Ryan Suter, June 16 2008, 4 years $14M: June 2008 was a good month for David Poile, locking up both Weber and Suter to bargain contracts. They got 167 PTS in 313 GP from the blue line.
5- Filip Forsberg, June 27 2015, 6 years $36M: Given some of the contracts signed by his contemporaries, Forsberg’s $6M is looking like an absolute bargain with several years left and his best years theoretically ahead of him. Dangerous player who has taken a step forward in year two.
6- Ryan Ellis, Oct 5 2014, 5 years $12.5M: Poile seems to be getting better at convincing his best RFA defensemen to sign very team friendly contracts coming out of entry level. Ellis has emerged as an unreal bargain for $2.5M AAV scoring 16 regular season goals and helping the Preds advance to the Stanley Cup finals in 2017.
7- Mattias Ekholm, Oct 26 2015, 6 years $22.5M: His production dipped in year 2 of this contract, but he also played 25 minutes a game with 11 PTS in the playoffs to help Nashville advance to the Stanley Cup finals. For $3.5M AAV, that’s awesome.
8- Rich Peverly, July 25 2008, 2 years $975K: He signed for the basement price of $487K AAV (which has to be close to the league minimum). In year 1 Pev had 9 PTS in 27 GP before being waived. He scored 90 PTS in 121 GP over the remainder of this contract in an Atlanta Thrashers jersey. The year after this contract expired he won a Stanley Cup in Boston. It’s pretty rare to see anyone on a “best contracts” list get waived. Oops. Even Poile makes mistakes sometimes.
9- Dan Hamhuis, Sep 21 2006, 4 years $8M: He played 321 games, scoring 97 PTS, averaging 22 min per game of ice time under this contract. He logged a lot of ice team for a cheap price.
10- David Legwand, July 22 2006, 2 years $3.75M: 143 GP, 107 PTS for under $4M. That’s a bargain price for that kind of production even after being adjusted for inflation.
*- Calle Jarnkrok, July 27 2016, 6 years $12M: This is the lowest AAV on a contract of 6+ years that I have come across in my research. In year 1 at age 23 Jarnkrok produced at the level of a $3.5M AAV player for $2M. His best years should still yet be ahead of him. This is a great contract for Nashville.
WORST (ranked by total $ spent)
1- Shea Weber, July 24 2012, 14 years $110M: This might have been the last monster contract squeezed in before the last lockout. Philadelphia made an offer sheet and David Poile matched. It has returned good value so far, but the back half is going to get ugly.
2- Colin Wilson, July 27 2015, 4 years $15.75M: They’re getting about $2M AAV worth of production for $4M. He had a career year in 2014/15 and got paid for it at age 24. It’s not a terrible contract, but they are overpaying for what they’re getting.
3- Paul Gaustad, June 29 2012, 4 years $13M: After scoring 6 PTS in 24 GP (playoffs included) in a Preds jersey as a rental, Poile inked him to a 4-year extension at age 30. Every season he played in Nashville was worse than any season he played in Buffalo (at least in terms of PTS). He got old fast and became an overpriced face-off specialist.
4- Viktor Stalberg, July 5 2013, 4 years $12M: They got 28 PTS in 95 GP on the first 2 years of this contract before buying it out. $6M is a lot to pay for that little production.
5- Eric Nystrom, July 5 2013, 4 years $10M: They got 185 GP and 40 PTS for $10M. That’s not very good value, but it should have been expected. He was producing at a similar rate prior to this contract. Poile just made a bad decision and ended up buying out this contract.
6- Sergei Kostitsyn, July 23 2012, 2 years $6M: A few months after Sergei’s brother got busted for partying with Radulov before a playoff game, he signed this contract in Nashville. When he returned from the lockout in 2013, he sucked and was bought out after 1 year.
7- Greg De Vries, July 2 2007, 2 years $5M: By the time Nashville signed him at age 34, his career was in decline. In the last year of this contract he played 71 games with 5 PTS, -15, while averaging just 15min per game of ice time.
8- Hall Gill, June 28 2012, 2 years $4M: He played 32 games with 0 PTS while only averaging 13min per game of ice time. It’s not a good idea to pay your 7th defenseman this much money, hence why he was bought out after 1 season. He was 6’7 at age 37. Decline was predictable.
9- Barret Jackman, July 1st 2015, 2 years $4M: Very comparable to the Hall Gill situation except Jackman was 34, so a bit younger. He only averaged 14min per game before being bought out after 1 season.
10- Olli Jokinen, July 2 2014, 1 year $2.5M: They got 10 PTS in 62 GP. It was easily the worst season in Jokinen’s career, but they did manage to sell him off to the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 1st round pick for Cody Franson. The Leafs probably would have taken just the 1st round pick. Jokinen didn’t sway the trade.
*- Matt Lombardi, July 2 2010, 3 years $10.5M: He scored 53 PTS in 78 GP the season before signing this contract. Then he had some injury issues and went on to score 26 PTS in 92 GP over 3 years for $10.5M.