What players had the best bargain contracts in the NHL in the summer of 2006? This list was compiled in 2017 based on their performance during the 2005/06 season. Free agents signed that summer are eligible for next year’s list, so everyone nominated here has played at least 1 full season under the contract. It was the season after the year-long lockout. These are only contracts signed under the restrictions of a salary cap. Contracts from before the lost season that got rolled back don't count.
We are looking for the best bargains, preferably under 10% of the cap (which in 2006 is $39M, so under $3.9M Average Annual Value). This is not about listing the 15 best players in the game and then saying those are the 15 best contracts. It’s the 15 best bargains. Entry level contracts don’t count, since they all come from a cookie cutter and require no specific bargaining skill. There is a preference for contracts with more than 1 year remaining, except in the case of extreme bargains.
1) Miikka Kiprusoff, CGY, 2 more yrs @ $3.3M AAV: Won the Vezina Trophy in the first year of a 3-year deal at $3.3M. That’s a fantastic bargain.
2) Henrik Zetterberg, DET, 3 more yrs @ $2.65M AAV: Zetterberg’s PTS/GP rose by 58% coming out of the lockout. He went from blue chip prospect to elite NHL producer over one missed season.
3) Pavel Datsyuk, DET, 1 more yr @ $3.9M AAV: Detroit has one more year of the “magic man” at a discount before he gets expensive. He won the Lady Byng this summer, not that anyone cares about that trophy. His 87 PTS were much more significant.
4) Sergei Zubov, DAL, 2 more yrs @ $4M AAV: Zubov’s agent really dropped the ball on this contract. How does a player who scored between 40 – 60 PTS for the previous 10+ seasons get roped into a 3-year contract for only $12M?
5) Dan Boyle, TB, 2 more yrs @ $3.3M AAV: So, Boyle was a major cog in a Tampa Bay Stanley Cup victory, and then turns around and signs a sweet-heart deal for 3 years at $10M? That’s not enough money for the contribution Boyle makes.
6) Brendan Morrow, DAL, 1 more yr @ $2.1M AAV: In the summer of 2006, the Dallas Stars made Morrow their team captain, following a season where he scored 23 goals and 65 PTS.
7) Mike Fisher, OTT, 2 more yrs @ $1.5M AAV: Fisher emerged in 2005/06 as a strong 2 way forward in the NHL. He’s providing about $3M - $4M worth of value for a $1.5M price.
8) Cory Stillman, CAR, 2 more yrs @ $1.8M AAV: For a player who just won back to back Stanley Cups (with a lockout in between), where he collected 33 playoff PTS, and 156 regular season PTS, that is a great price. He made a huge contribution.
9) Dainius Zubrus, NJ, 1 more yr @ $1.8M AAV: In 2006 he scored 57 PTS, the highest total of his 8-year career to this point.
10) Ray Whitney, CAR, 1 more yr @ $1.5M AAV: This was another Stanley Cup winning contract for Carolina. Whitney scored 15 PTS in a championship playoff run and still has another year at a cheap price tag.
11) Ryan Smyth, EDM, 1 more yr @ $3.5M AAV: This was a great season for Smyth scoring 36 Goals and helping Edmonton make a run to the Stanley Cup finals.
12) Daymond Langkow, CGY, 2 more yrs @ $2.4M AAV: That’s a good price for 25 Goals and 59 PTS at age 28.
13) Alex Frolov, LA, 4 more yrs @ $2.9M AAV: At age 23 he scored 21 Goals and 54 PTS. He returned from the lockout as a better player. If you can get a young point producer locked in to a 5+ year deal at a low price, that can lead to incredible bargain years in the future.
14) Jochen Hecht, BUF, 2 more yrs @ $2.2M AAV: He was limited to 64 GP but still put up a respectable 42 PTS at age 28. A very important player for Buffalo, good character and a 200-foot player.
15) Kristian Huselius, CGY, 2 more yrs @ $1.4M AAV: Anytime you can get a 20 Goal scorer for that price, you’re doing good. He was traded in December for Steve Montador, so Florida couldn’t have thought too highly of him. His production rose sharply after arriving in Calgary.