Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Worst NHL Contracts 2017

What are the Worst NHL contracts of 2017? Those lasting for multiple more years get a higher priority, except in the case of extreme wastes of money.  The Majority of these contracts were signed as UFAs on or around July 1st. The opening week of NHL free agency every summer tends to produce many of the league’s worst contracts.

I would like to congratulate Dustin Brown for playing his way off the shit list. He ranked #5 on last year’s worst contracts list, but after a summer of heavy steroid use hard work, he’s made an epic comeback to respectability.

1) Bobby Ryan, Ottawa, 4 more yrs @ $7.25M: I almost want to give Bobby Ryan a pass for having a good playoffs last season, but let’s be honest, this is a terrible contract. He does not deserve even close to this much money and has 4 years left on the wrong side of 30 years old. He’s got 12 PTS in 24 GP so far this season and has had problems staying healthy. He produces near the level of a $4M - $5M player. When you look at other players who had comparably bad production for over $7M AAV, the first 2 names on the list are Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, who are in the Hall of Fame of bad contracts.

2) Zach Parise, Minnesota, 7 more yrs @ $7.4M: He’s already 33 years old and has 7 years left on his contract. He’s been trending in the wrong direction, with his ice time and Corsi declining almost every season since he’s been in Minnesota. The best-case scenario for the Wild is that when he’s ready to retire, he develops a health problem that allows the team to hide his contract on LTIR instead of facing cap recapture penalty. If he could develop career ending foot blisters or some other type of common hockey discomfort, he would save the Wild some serious headaches.

3) Loui Eriksson, Vancouver, 4 more yrs @ $6M: The Loui Eriksson experiment has not been a success in Vancouver, even if he’s been more productive lately. This signing never made much sense for the Canucks who were in the middle of a rebuilding process, giving a 6-year contract to a 30-year-old player. That’s always a big risk. His last season in Boston saw the Swede score 30 Goals and 63 PTS. Year one of this contract he dropped all the way down to 11 Goals and 24 PTS in 65 GP. It’s never good to see massive production declines in year one of a long-term contract to an over-30 player. Eriksson has been slightly better in year two, scoring at a pace of 41 PTS per 82 GP, but for the money he’s making, that’s still not nearly enough.

4) Andrew Ladd, Islanders, 5 more yrs @ $5.5M: At 32 years old he’s down to about a 30-point player after reaching 62 PTS in 2015. Giving a 7-year contract to a 30-year-old player is very risky. They can hit sudden and irreversible production declines and leave a team sitting on a bad asset. He scored 31 PTS in year one of this contract, and thus far in year two he’s on pace to finish with 39 PTS. Last year he ranked #1 on the Worst Contracts list, but his slight improvement this season is the reason he’s dropped down to #4. Ladd still gets plenty of ice time on a team with several offensive weapons, which makes his low point total and remaining term even more concerning.

5) Ryan Callahan, Tampa, 2 more yrs @ $5.8M: Callahan’s career hit a wall at age 30, diminishing ice time, negligible offense, and 2 years to go. In year one of this 6-year contract, he scored a respectable 54 PTS in 77 GP, year two he scored 28 PTS in 73 GP, year three he scored 4 PTS in 18 GP. In 29 GP so far in year four he has just 6 PTS on an offensive juggernaut. That’s awful for what he’s being paid and it’s worth questioning if he can still play at the NHL level.

6) Matt Moulson, Buffalo, 1 more yr @ $5M: He’s currently playing in the AHL and will probably be bought out this summer. Forgive me for saying this again, but he turned 30 in year one of this contract, scoring 41 PTS playing almost 18 minutes per game, but with a 41% Corsi (which is only acceptable for defensive specialists, of which he’s not one). In year two he dropped all the way down to 21 PTS in 81 GP playing just 12m per game. In 14 NHL GP this season, he’s got 0 PTS. This 5-year $25M deal is a contender for the Bad Contracts Hall of Fame.

7) Matt Belesky, Boston, 2 more yrs @ $3.8M: He’s already got more PTS in the AHL this season than the NHL at age 29. Paying this much money to a minor leaguer is always an automatic fail. In year one he scored 37 PTS in 80 GP, then in year two plummeted all the way down to 8 PTS in 49 GP. So far in year three he’s got 0 PTS in the 14 NHL games he has played. He should probably be bought out this summer, unless the owner is too cheap to pay a guy not to play.

8) Andrew MacDonald, Philly, 2 more yrs @ $5M: The best hockey he’s played on this contract was in the AHL. He scored 28 PTS the season before signing this deal, and has not come close to that point total since. MacDonald has been playing over 20 minutes per game this month and Philadelphia has been winning some hockey games, but that’s not enough to return this contract to respectability. It will go down in history as an awful transaction. Paul Holmgren signed this contract about a month before losing his job to Ron Hextall, although it’s unlikely this was the reason he’s not the GM anymore…it took until next season for everyone to figure out this was a bad idea.

9) Jason Spezza, Dallas, 1 more yrs @ $7.5M: They gave a 4-year $30M contract to a 32-year-old player. In year three he’s got just 16 PTS in 39 GP, which is a 34-point pace. This is the type of player teams only sign to score points and with a season and a half still left to go at a really high price tag, they need more than what they’re getting. He’ll be turning 35 this summer. It’s unlikely to get any better next season. He’s getting under 14 minutes of ice time per game, his lowest total in the last 11 seasons. Paying a 3rd line player that much money is a huge fail.

10) Jori Lehtera, Philly, 1 more yr @ $4.7M: At some point Ron Hextall went to Flyers ownership and explained how it was a good idea to replace Brayden Schenn with this guy. That can’t help his credibility going forward. Lehtera is barely an NHL player. He scored 44 PTS in 75 GP in 2015. So far this season he’s got 2 PTS in 21 GP, which would put him on pace for 8 PTS in 82 GP (provided he played 82 games and was not a frequent healthy scratch). Guess what else happened this season? You guessed it, he turned 30 years old. He should be a prime candidate for a buyout, but I’m doubtful Hextall would do that because it would make that Schenn trade look even worse.

11) Troy Brouwer, Calgary, 2 more yrs @ $4.5M: The season before signing this contract, Brouwer scored 39 PTS. Then in year one he dropped down to 25 PTS. So far in year two he’s on a pace for 20 PTS at age 32. It’s debateable if he’s still good enough to play in the NHL, but there’s no question he’s not worth nearly this much money anymore. It’s very likely that this contract will be bought out before it’s end. His ice time has dropped by nearly 4 minutes per game this season, down to 12.6m, his lowest total since he was a sophomore.

12) Carl Soderberg, Colorado, 2 more yrs @ $4.8M: He scored 51 PTS while averaging 18 minutes per game in year one, then dropped down to 14 PTS in 80 GP in 13.4m in year two at age 30. So far in year three he’s got 16 PTS in 34 GP (pace for 39 PTS over 82 GP), rebounding a bit from last season’s colossal collapse due to an increase in ice time, but still not enough to earn that salary.

13) Kyle Okposo, Buffalo, 5 more yrs @ $6M: Okposo ran into health problems last year and has not been the same since. At age 29 it would appear his new ceiling is somewhere in the 40-point range, which is not what the Sabres are paying for. He’s still getting plenty of ice time but is on pace for just 39 PTS over 82 GP, which is far below what you’d expect from a player in this salary range. It’s unclear what role his health may have played in his recent decline, but the bottom line is that he needs to be better to earn his money.

14) Ryan Suter, Minnesota, 7 more yrs at $7.4M: He’s still a good player and leaned upon heavily to carry the bulk of the defensive load for the Wild. Since arriving in Minnesota, he has led the league in total ice time by a wide margin. Since 2013 Suter has logged 10,507 minutes of ice time in the regular season, the next highest total is Drew Doughty with 10,170 minutes (and Drew is 5 years younger). That heavy usage should be taking it’s toll any day now. With 7 years remaining at age 33, that’s a problem. Or maybe not. Now that teams have figured out how to circumvent the cap recapture penalty, the Suter contract may not belong here. If he gets a case of career ending jock itch, the Wild could hide the remainder on LTIR.

15) Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit, 3 more yrs @ $6M: Like Suter, Zetterberg is still an effective player at his age, but has one of those large back-diving contracts that caries a significant cap recapture penalty. The back-dive part of his contract starts next season. If he simply retires, he will penalize the franchise. Team Doctors are already searching for equipment that he’s allergic to, but if he can’t develop a career ending rash, hopefully they can find something else wrong with him, allowing the team to hide the remaining years on LTIR. That’s the way it goes now.

Honourable Mentions: Brent Seabrook, Corey Perry, Frans Nielsen, Tomas Tatar, Brooks Orpik, Jonathon Ericsson, Tyler Ennis, Marc Staal, Trevor Daley, Mikkel Boedker, Connor Murphy, Danny DeKeyser, Jimmy Howard, Milan Lucic

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