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7 NHL Players Who Got Overpaid This Summer And 8 Who Were Bargains

Over the years, free agency has been a time for teams to get creative and fill out their roster needs. Today, it is crazy to see how much the dollar in free agency has trended upwards. In the 2004-05 lockout, one of the primary concerns was that too much money was being given out to players. Therefore, a strict salary cap with limits on how much money a player could make were set.  Fast forward to the present, and we are seeing record breaking deals that were unimaginable after the aforementioned dispute between the National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association.

Undoubtedly, some teams have gone on to regret the major contracts they have handed out during this time frame.  Think of players such as David Clarkson, Wade Redden, Mike Richards, Scott Gomez, Ville Leino, and Brad Richards.  All of these are signings that general managers would love to have back and some teams are still paying these players today. So yes, there have been some overpaid NHL players. However, let us not forget that there have also been some bargains for many teams. Just think about players like John Tavares and Tyler Seguin who are underpaid in comparison to players with lesser production.

Overall, for the most part, 2016 NHL free agency has come and gone. Barring major trades, teams have a pretty good idea of what their roster will consist of going into training camp. So let us take a look at teams that overpaid for players and teams that got themselves a bargain during 2016 NHL free agency. In the end, the length of the contract is what makes most of these signings fall in the category of "overpaid."

Some of the players may be worth the money for the first few years, but after that it is where we will seriously question the signings.

15 Bargain - James Reimer

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The 28-year-old James Reimer signed with the Florida Panthers for five years at $3.4 million per season this offseason. People may think this is a lot of money for a backup goalie, but on the surface, it appears he will play a bigger role in Florida. Roberto Luongo will be 38 years old soon and he himself admitted that he was exhausted at some points last season. Also, Luongo has had hip surgery this offseason and may be missing time during the regular season. Therefore, it will not be a surprise to see Reimer get a heavy workload.

14 Overpaid - Darren Helm 

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubt that Darren Helm is a valuable asset to the Red Wings. His great penalty killing skills, hustle, and grit have made him a fan favorite in Detroit and many teams would like to have this type of player. However, there should be a point for teams to walk away when a player asks for too much money. Ultimately, the Red Wings did not walk away from Helm and signed him to a five-year contract worth an annual cap hit of $3.85 million. Helm has never had 40 points, or more than 15 goals in a season. Some may attribute this to a lack of opportunity, but Helm did have a chance to play on the 1st and 2nd lines for parts of this past season. We will see what Helm does this season, but personally I am not expecting much more production because he will be stuck behind Henrik Zetterberg, and Frans Nielsen.

13 Bargain - P.A. Parenteau

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Here, we have a player that is returning to his old stomping grounds on a bargain contract. P.A. Parenteau signed with the Islanders for one year at $1.25 million, bringing puck possession and more scoring punch to the team. Parenteau did have his struggles over the past few years in Colorado and Montreal, but turned his career around this past season with the Maple Leafs. In total, Parenteau scored 20 goals and added 21 assists in 77 games with the lowly Leafs.

12 Overpaid - Kyle Okposo

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Another player that has proven he can score 20 plus goals in a season consistently. As a result, Kyle Okposo was able to ink a seven-year $42 million contract with the Sabres. Despite the fact Okposo is a proven 20 goal scorer, we decided to put him on this list due to the fact there are too many question marks around this signing. I know there are demands in free agency, but a cap hit of $6 million for a player that has not scored 30 goals is a bit much.

Additionally, it is fair to question if Okposo's game can improve to meet the new contract expectations. After all, he had been playing with John Tavares. As a result, it is fair to ask how he will produce without Tavares. Hopefully for the Sabres, Okposo is able to develop chemistry with Jack Eichel or Ryan O'Reilly like he had with Tavares or it could be a long seven years.

 

11 Bargain - Jamie McGinn

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a career year where he scored 22 goals and 17 assists, McGinn signed a three-year deal worth $10 million with the Arizona Coyotes. The 6-foot-1, 205 pound forward will give the Coyotes size, muscle, and add scoring to a unit that already consists of great young players like Max Domi, and Anthony Duclair. He seems like a perfect fit for these skilled forwards because of his ability to to set screens, score goals in the dirty areas, and alternate between the top and bottom six.

10 Overpaid - Milan Lucic

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Milan Lucic is a heart and soul type player that plays with a tremendous amount of grit. He has had a solid career up to this point and he will also provide protection in case anybody tries to pick on the Oilers talented forward group. Additionally, if the Oilers finally make it to the playoffs, his experience will undoubtedly come in handy. However, the seven-year contract worth $6 million per year is just too steep. Lucic has not scored more than 20 goals since the 2013-14 season and his best hockey may already be behind him. Furthermore, the rugged style that power forwards play usually results in their bodies breaking down faster than other players (Lucic is now 28).

9 Bargain - Dan Hamhuis 

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

In an era where defencemen are getting paid a ton of money, the Dallas Stars were able to sign Dan Hamhuis for a decent price. In total, Hamhuis, the former Canuck and Olympic Gold Medal Winner, signed a two-year contract worth $7.5 million. Part of the reason the Stars got Hamhuis at this price is that he had a bit of a rough 2015-16 season. A lot of this can be blamed on injuries, as Hamhuis only played in 58 games and recorded only 13 points. Still, Hamhuis is still a sold two-way defenceman that should help the Stars replace Alex Goligoski and ensure the Stars do not have to force their young and upcoming defencemen into action.

8 Overpaid - David Backes

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, many will see David Backes as a "classic" Bruin due to his big stature and intimidating game. He also proved last season that he can still make a significant impact in the playoffs by recording 14 points in 21 games. However, spending 6 million dollars a year for 5 years on a third-line center that is already 32 (unless Backes is moved to the wing) is just too hefty of a price.

7 Bargain - Troy Brouwer

Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like the Flames have been missing a gritty, heart and soul type forward since Jarome Iginla left. Now, I am not saying Brouwer is anywhere near the level of Iginla, but with the limited cap space they had, the Flames did well to address this significant need. Brouwer signed a four-year, $18 million contract with the Flames and should consistently provide leadership, goal scoring, and great play in the playoffs. It would not even be a surprise to see Brouwer score between 25-30 goals playing alongside Johnny Gaudreau or Sean Monahan. Another area that seems to be overlooked in regards to this signing is the fact that the Flames were able to avoid the six year term that seemed to be handed out like candy this offseason, especially to players 30 or older.

6 Overpaid - Loui Eriksson

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Now do not get me wrong, Loui Eriksson is a great player and this signing should keep the Sedin twins happy while boosting the Canucks offence, but for how long does he make the Canucks better? Eriksson signed a six year deal worth $36 million. Six million dollars per year for a two way winger that can score 30 goals is not bad value, however Eriksson will be 31 years old before he plays a game with the Canucks. So yes, he may be worth $6 million in years one, two, and maybe even three, but what about the later years of this contract when he is at an age where most players production tends to slow down? This six year term would be more understandable if the Canucks were in cup contention and desperate to take the next step, but that is not the case. If anything, they should be in a rebuild mode and this signing is just helping delay the inevitable.

5 Bargain - Eric Staal

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

There may not be a player from this free agency with more to prove than Eric Staal. After the worst season of his career playing in Carolina and New York, Staal will be on a mission to prove that he is still an elite centre in the NHL. As a result of the aforementioned poor season, Minnesota was able to lock up Staal for a relatively cheap contract of 3 years for 10.5 million dollars. It is not often you get a player of Staal's pedigree for such "little money" and such favourable term, but luckily for Minnesota, this was the case.

4 Overpaid #2 - Frans Nielsen

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Like the Helm signing, usually it is very difficult to question anything Detroit does, given their history. However, signing a 32-year-old center to a six-year deal worth $5.25 million per season is something that has to be questioned. Perhaps it was an act of desperation by the Wings after losing Pavel Datsyuk and losing out on Steven Stamkos. Now, to be fair, Frans Nielsen is a useful player and has averaged 51 points over the past three seasons. He is also strong defensively and can play on special teams. However, like many of the players included on this list, the length of this contract is simply too long. $5.25 million per year is a decent number for Nielsen for the first couple of seasons, but the last few years of the contract will come back to bite the Red Wings.

3 Bargain - Brian Campbell

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Campbell is back with the Chicago Blackhawks. When the rumors of Campbell making a comeback to Chicago emerged, most people knew that he would have to take less money than he could get from other teams. Still, it was remarkable to see how much less money he actually took to go back to Chicago. Campbell signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract, with bonuses (there are rumors that Florida offered a one year, $5 million contract). Campbell still plays like a top-4 defenceman and he should fit right in with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Niklas Hjalmarsson and more importantly, help limit their minutes over the course of the season.

2 Overpaid - Andrew Ladd 

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Is it just me, or have the Islanders been discussed a lot in this article? Anyway, it is fair to say the Islanders made a major gamble by signing the soon to be 31-year-old to a seven year contract with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. Yes, Andrew Ladd is a heart and soul type player that has won two Stanley Cups, but this signing is just too long and the money is too much.

Ladd will probably help the Islanders in a positive manner next season, and maybe even a couple seasons after that, but he is already on the wrong side of 30 and has played a rugged style that will continue to wear him down. Ladd showed decline with his low point totals last season,. His 46 points were his lowest since 2012-13 and he only played 48 games that season.

1 Bargain - Steven Stamkos

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After all the rumors and speculation, Stamkos did not even make it to free agency.  Even though he did not make it to free agency, he is on this list because he dictated the whole frenzy. In the end, Stamkos signed with the Lightning for eight years and $68 million. Is it silly to call $68 million a bargain?  Well, considering that Stamkos could have gotten much more on the open market, yes this is a bargain for Tampa Bay. There were rumors that teams were willing to go as high as $12 million per year for Stamkos, but instead Stamkos did a very respectable thing by taking a "pay cut."

With this signing, Tampa gets to keep their captain and one of the best players in the league. They also were able to use the extra money to resign players like Victor Hedman, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Alex Killorn.... Steve Yzerman does it again.

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7 NHL Players Who Got Overpaid This Summer And 8 Who Were Bargains