The NHL is filled with ultra-talented players that can do things the rest of us normal people can only dream of. It can certainly be argued that hockey is the toughest sport to play, as hockey players not only have to make a tremendous amount of talented moves, but they also have to do so while on skates, with other hockey players trying to hit them. Anyone who plays in the National Hockey League deserves a world of credit, but sometimes players get too much credit. Those players get ginormous contracts from desperate teams, and then the teams and the players both realize that a mistake has been made. With that being said, however, teams mind the poor contracts a lot more than players do. See, the players get their money no matter what. Sure it may be a downer on personal morale to hear the fans boo you for your poor play, but in the long run you're making millions of dollars, while they're paying just to get into the arena.
Players with terrible contracts still get to play in the National Hockey League when all is said and done, and we can't help but be jealous of that. Looking at the league, there are plenty of those contracts scattered across individual teams. With that in mind, let's take a look at 15 contracts that NHL teams need to get rid of. There are some truly awful contracts on here, and it shows how poorly NHL General Managers can judge talent sometimes!
15 Milan Lucic - Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers signed Milan Lucic to a mega-deal this past offseason in hopes that his big body and strong possession play would help complement Connor McDavid's overall game. McDavid can make anyone into a superstar, though, and the Oilers already had a perfect winger in Taylor Hall. Edmonton moved Hall to the Oilers, and tabbed Lucic as "the guy" for McDavid and company. Lucic has rewarded the Oilers with 11 goals in 56 games, losing his first line spot to Patrick Maroon. Lucic has not even put up many penalty minutes or assists, and is serving as one of the few negatives on a revamped Oilers offense. Edmonton would certainly like a mulligan on the Lucic contract, as his future appears to be getting worse before it gets better.
14 Dan Girardi - New York Rangers
Dan Girardi has been through playoff series after playoff series after playoff series with the New York Rangers. His individual success has been wrapped up in the teams success, and that is no coincidence. As the Rangers shutdown the likes of Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby in past playoff series, Girardi was lauded. Yet the real reason behind Girardi's success was Henrik Lundqvist, and that has shown to be true in the past two+ seasons. Girardi is under contract for over three more years at over $5 Million per year, and is still playing on the top pair of the defense for the Rangers. Whether that's in hopes he magically regains talent or out of lack of other options we don't know, but the Rangers sure would like a re-do.
13 Andrew Ladd - New York Islanders
Andrew Ladd, like Milan Lucic, was signed as a top target of his respective team. The New York Islanders targeted Andrew Ladd in free agency from day one, despite having superior players hitting free agency from their own organization in Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo. Ladd signed a seven year deal with the Islanders despite already being over 30 years old, and the beginning of the contract, which was expected to make up for the expected lack of success in the later years, has been horrible. Ladd has tallied 18 points through 50 games, being bumped off of the John Tavares line that he was signed to play on. Ladd has not contributed two way play or any specific niche for the Islanders, who are regretting the deal.
12 Andrew MacDonald - Philadelphia Flyers
Had Andrew MacDonald not been traded by the New York Islanders to the Philadelphia Flyers back when he was about to be a free agent, he may be a teammate of Andrew Ladd's today. Instead, MacDonald was moved, and MacDonald has been a disaster for the Flyers. MacDonald's possession numbers have been woeful at best, his offensive abilities are completely gone, and Head Coach Dave Hakstol regularly inserts him into the lineup over defensive phenom Shayne Gostisbehere. MacDonald's contract has haunted the Flyers already, and it still has over two years on it. The Flyers have an albatross on their hands and it doesn't appear it's going away any time soon. The Andrew MacDonald contract is the worst on the team, and by a wide margin.
11 Pekka Rinne - Nashville Predators
Pekka Rinne is not a player who is commonly cited as having an albatross of a contract, but the numbers certainly do not lend themselves to his being anything other than a money-grabber from his organization. Nashville has a superior goalie playing backup in the young, talented goalie Juuse Saros, yet Pekka Rinne has to continue to get the majority of the reps due to his contract and standing in Nashville. Rinne's deal spans two more seasons at $7 Million and a no movement clause for each season, so it appears the Predators are stuck with him between the pipes. Rinne has never been anything other than a slightly above average goalie, and those goalies are not worth $7 Million. You can find them anywhere.
10 Dustin Brown - Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings had a horrible contract a couple years back in Mike Richards, yet continued to carry him on the roster until they could not possibly defend keeping him aboard any longer. It now appears the Kings are doing so again with Dustin Brown. The former captain of the Kings, who lost his captainship to Anze Kopitar this past offseason, has a bloated contract despite providing little to the Kings organization. In the past he was a scorer who could play a strong two-way game, but now he is a bottom six player who can occasionally tally a goal and spark his team with intangibles. We hardly believe those little skills are worth a mega-contract, and we're inclined to believe the Kings would agree.
9 Kari Lehtonen - Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars are likely going to miss the postseason this year, a year in which many expected them to contend for the Stanley Cup Final. The reason? Goaltending. It's the same reason the Stars were bounced out of the postseason last year, as neither Kari Lehtonen nor Antti Niemi could be a reliable goaltender for any stretch of time. The Stars hoped with a new season they would get better play from their goalies, but Lehtonen and Niemi have proven that is not the case. Lehtonen is on board for nearly $6 Million per season, and the Stars badly need a replacement. If any contract in the league is immovable, Kari Lehtonen's certainly is one of those. Good luck to the Stars is all we have left to say!
8 Ryan Callahan - Tampa Bay Lightning
Perhaps in a different world Ryan Callahan could stay healthy and show us why he deserves not to be on this list, but Ryan Callahan cannot stay healthy, so he does deserve to be on this list. The forward that was acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning from the New York Rangers for Martin St. Louis in a blockbuster deal back in 2014 was fine at the beginning of his Lightning tenure, but then the predictable slew of injuries started creeping into the picture. Now Callahan misses more games than he plays, and the Lightning are lucky to get any production out of him at all. When healthy, he is hardly worth the over $5 Million the team invested in him despite his gritty play that begs for injuries.
7 Paul Stastny - St. Louis Blues
From the moment Paul Stastny took the ice as a marquee free agent signing by the St. Louis Blues, the former Colorado Avalanche centerman has been a disappointment. Considered the missing piece in a Blues championship puzzle by many, Stastny has struggled to fit in, struggled to score, and struggled to be anything of value to the Blues. Making over $6 Million to play a top six center role, Stastny has only managed to contribute 35 points in 54 games for the Blues, who are struggling to maintain a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Stastny was signed to be a difference maker on the ice for the Blues, but instead has only managed to be a difference maker on the payroll, in a negative way.
6 Jack Johnson - Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets have one of the top young defenses in the National Hockey League, boasting Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, David Savard, and Zach Werenski all on the same defense. It's an incredible quartet of young difference makers, but they often lose ice time to John Tortorella favorite and lesser talented defenseman Jack Johnson. Johnson only has one year remaining on his contract after this one expires, but the year will be in one that the Blue Jackets expect to compete heavily in the Eastern Conference. His mere existence for that year will help prevent the Blue Jackets from reaching their potential, and his $5 Million paycheck hurts the ability to better the team around him as well. Johnson is a negative on a team of positives.
5 Marian Gaborik - Los Angeles Kings
Jack Johnson's former team, the Los Angeles Kings, have a major contract issue of their own. Marian Gaborik, who was acquired by the Kings from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the 2014 Trade Deadline, was later re-signed to a long term deal. Gaborik started the deal off with a bang, showing the scoring touch that the Kings were sorely missing. However he then began to struggle with injuries, and it all went downhill from there. Gaborik is now unable to take the ice nearly enough, and when he does he looks more like a shell of his former self than a positive contributor to the Kings' success. The Kings are battling for playoff positioning in the Western Conference, and Gaborik must do more to help.
4 Zach Parise - Minnesota Wild
Zach Parise is a terrific hockey player, but he has not had a strong year. Considering that he is aging and exiting his prime rather than entering it, we cannot help but worry about what this means for the Wild and their forward. Parise has scored only 27 points in 46 games this year at the age of 32, and still has eight years left on his contract not including the one he is currently playing. The deal was in hopes of getting the best out of him in the early years of the contract, but the Wild clearly overestimated that and underestimated how quickly he would struggle to produce his usual numbers. The Wild have a wildly poor contract on their books for the future.
3 Carl Soderberg - Colorado Avalanche
Carl Soderberg was the prized free agent in a ghastly off-season back in 2015. Soderberg had his rights traded by the Boston Bruins to the Colorado Avalanche, a perplexing move considering the Avalanche had just made the playoffs and boasted both Matt Duchene and Nathan Mackinnon at center. Yet Joe Sakic, a former superstar centerman himself, saw a player he wanted and went out and got him. Soderberg signed a long term deal with the Avalanche, a deal that from the start clearly favored the player rather than the team. His reward to the Avalanche? 11 points in 53 games this season, including only five goals scored. If you're wondering why the Avalanche are not good this season, Soderberg can be used as a microcosm.
2 Marc-Andre Fleury - Pittsburgh Penguins
We struggled to put Marc-Andre Fleury on this list because his contract is not necessarily bad, especially considering some of the other goaltender contracts you could find across the National Hockey League. That being said, it's a contract the Pittsburgh Penguins would certainly like to get rid of. Fleury has been a pillar for the Penguins organization throughout his career, yet it is young goaltender Matt Murray that is the present and the future of the organization. As of now Murray cannot be protected in the Expansion Draft due to Fleury's no movement clause, so the Penguins will have to either buy out Fleury's contract, or trade him for little to no value. They'd much rather just have a mulligan on the whole thing.
1 Travis Zajac - New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils are one of the cheapest teams in the National Hockey League, often failing to pay their players to stay in the organization. It amazes us that they managed to keep Martin Brodeur around, though Zach Parise did leave for greener pastures. That being said, the Devils decided enough was enough when negotiating with Travis Zajac and gave the centerman the world. Zajac is under contract for another four seasons following the completion of this season, and will make over $5.5 Million in each of the seasons. Zajac is 31 years old, and has 30 points in 54 games played this season. The Devils have an albatross on their hands, so no wonder they struggle to score and compete in the league.
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