Show me a general manager boasting of a perfect track record, and I will show you a liar. With rosters of every NHL franchise constantly changing, there simply is no such thing as perfection among team executives. Quite frankly, it’s just too difficult to get the best of every trade, draft choice, free agent contract and transaction that you make in pursuit of helping your team get better.
That being said, it doesn’t mean that those regrettable moves don’t hurt. In the NHL, deals are instantly dissected and evaluated in an obsessive pursuit to immediately identify winners and losers. That puts additional pressure on even the most minor of moves for the league’s current GM’s. Just this summer saw the entire league caught up in the frenzy of witnessing the Vegas Golden Knights and GM George McPhee take the other 30 NHL teams hostage in building their roster through the Expansion Draft.
Soon enough, Vegas will have its share of highs and lows among their transactions, just as every other team does. Probably sooner rather than later, too. You see, while patience can sometimes be a virtue when it comes to properly evaluating moves, the success or failure of most deals is made readily evident not too long after they are agreed upon. In the last decade alone, each club has made a transaction that they would ideally like to have back. Ten years can sure bring a lot of bad moves!
31. Anaheim Ducks: Trading Chris Kunitz (2009)
There’s no such thing as a trade without risk, but the 2009 deal that saw the Anaheim Ducks send 29-year-old Chris Kunitz along with Eric Tangradi to the Pittsburgh Penguins for 25-year-old defenseman Ryan Whitney seemed pretty close. Kunitz had spent five years and 313 games in Anaheim, becoming something of a known commodity being exchanged for a young blue liner rich with potential.
As it turned out, Kunitz still had a few tricks left up his sleeve. Of course, being paired with Sidney Crosby didn’t hurt. The Kid helped Kunitz find new life into his 30’s, scoring 106 goals over four seasons between 2010 and 2014. Whitney, meanwhile, never quite lived up to the expectations of his fifth overall draft slot in 2002. He was serviceable over parts of two years with the Ducks, but never carved out a major role on the team.
30. Arizona Coyotes: Trading Devan Dubnyk (2015)
It took the Arizona Coyotes all of six months and 19 games played to determine that free agent signing Devan Dubnyk was ill-suited to serve as backup to starting goalie Mike Smith. His trade to Minnesota for a third round draft pick elicited little more than a shrug among ‘Yotes fans, with a mid-round pick for a little-used goaltender not offering much reason for excitement.
But even minor deals can come with major consequences. Upon arriving in Minny, Dubnyk instantly assumed the starting role and became a lynchpin to the Wild’s playoff push. He went 27-9-2 with a .936 save percentage and a 1.78 goals against average the rest of the way, earning an All-Star nod and a Vezina nomination. Now 31, Dubnyk has served as the backbone of the perennial playoff-contending Wild in each of the two seasons since, while Arizona continues to find itself in need of reliable goaltending help.
29. Boston Bruins: Trading Tyler Seguin (2013)
Seguin was just 21 at the time of the trade, but with a 29-goal campaign already under his belt, there was no mistaking the superstar potential he carried. Peter Chiarelli, however, seemed to believe he could double down on that potential by sending him elsewhere. The only explanation offered came in vague rumours about the youngster’s hard-partying lifestyle.
For Seguin and Rich Peverley, the Bruins got back a consistent veteran winger in Loui Eriksson along with prospects Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser. Today, the Bruins have nothing left to show for the deal, with one 30-goal campaign from Eriksson being just about the entirety of the return. Seguin, on the other hand, stands at over 300 points and counting as a Star while still just 26 years of age.
28. Buffalo Sabres: Signing Ville Leino (2011)
For just 88 Euros, you could be the proud owner of an original, Billebeino-designed hoodie titled, “Jail”. Billebeino is the fashion brand of retired forward Ville Leino and “Jail” represents the Finn’s less-than-endearing tribute to his three-year stint in Buffalo. While you might think Leino should have nothing but fond memories from a club that handed him a six-year, $27 million deal, his artistic expression highlights just how disastrous his time with the Sabres turned out to be.
Lavishing $27 million on a player who had never scored 20 goals seemed ill-advised right away, but few could anticipate how badly it would turn out. Leino would score just 10 goals over 137 games in Buffalo, eventually being benched by then-head coach Ted Nolan. From there, the only move left for the Sabres organization was to buy out the three years remaining on the deal, paying him nearly $14 million to go away.
27. Carolina Hurricanes: Drafting Ryan Murphy (2011)
How bad was the top of the 2011 NHL Draft? Well, consider this: the first round has produced exactly as many All-Stars as the third and fourth (one) and two fewer than the second round (three). So when the Carolina Hurricanes struck out by drafting blue liner Ryan Murphy with the No. 12 pick, they were hardly alone. But even by the low standards of his draft class, Murphy has been particularly disappointing.
The former Kitchener Rangers star is currently one of just two of the top 17 picks in 2011 without an NHL job. While you might chalk that up to an inability to crack Carolina’s deep blue line, the ‘Canes have actually given the 24-year-old five opportunities to make the big club. Instead, Carolina could have nabbed a goalie like John Gibson or drafted some much-needed scoring help with one of later picks like Johnny Gaudreau, Brandon Saad or – oof – Nikita Kucherov.
26. Calgary Flames: Trading Dion Phaneuf (2010)
Things didn’t exactly work out for Dion Phaneuf in Toronto, where an ill-suited captaincy and unmet expectations of Phaneuf being a No. 1 defenseman expedited his in-province move to Ottawa. That still shouldn’t make Calgary Flames fans feel any better about the trade that brought him there, though.
The 2010 deal saw a 24-year-old Phaneuf head to Toronto with Keith Aulie and Frederik Sjostrom for Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and Ian White, a quartet of decent NHL talent utterly devoid of intriguing upside. Phaneuf, meanwhile, was an imposing physical force who had been a top 10 pick back in 2003. Given the demand for established, young blue line help it’s astounding that the Flames couldn’t get more from a team known for costly sacrifices of young picks and prospects.
25. Chicago Blackhawks: Trading Dustin Byfuglien (2010)
Once a blueprint for organizational success, the Chicago Blackhawks remain revered for how they won three Cups in six years on the backs of two homegrown pillars in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, but not without a sobering reminder of the damage greatness can do on your cap situation.
The cap gymnastics have included a fair share of casualties stemming from talent that the Hawks have wanted to keep, but simply couldn’t afford. All of Artemi Panarin, Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Andrew Ladd, Nick Leddy and Teuvo Teravainen, among others, have been cast aside on account of cap concerns, but none stung more than the loss of Dustin Byfuglien back in 2010. Big Buff was just 25 and mere months removed from helping Chicago hoist the Stanley Cup when he was dealt to Atlanta for a platter of underwhelming pieces.
24. Colorado Avalanche: Drafting Mitchell Heard, Troy Bourke, Michael Clarke (2012)
Between 2009 and 2013, the Colorado Avalanche drafted Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan Mackinnon, three young stars who already have over 900 career points between them. Curiously, the once-great Avs have also failed to win a single playoff series dating back to 2008.
The Avalanche got just 16 games out of 2010 first rounder Joey Hishon, who is now plying his trade in Sweden, and a mere four games out of 2011 first rounder Duncan Siemens, who remains stuck in the AHL. In 2012, things would get even worse. Colorado was without a first rounder owing to a trade with Washington where their pick (which would become Filip Forsberg) was swapped out in exchange for goalie disaster Semyon Varlamov. To date, the club’s next three selections – Mitchell Heard, Troy Bourke and Michael Clarke – have yet to set foot on NHL ice.
23. Columbus Blue Jackets: Trading Jeff Carter (2011)
The Columbus Blue Jackets organization had a long-standing track record of playing it safe, almost to a fault. Their history features few spectacular success stories or disastrous failures, largely because they have never demonstrated the brazen ambition to shoot for the moon on a trade or signing. Rick Nash remains the only real star forward they’ve ever had and even last year’s playoff-bound Jackets were largely a no-name bunch whose sum was greater than the value of the parts.
Perhaps the reluctance to go big stems from their one notable bold effort. In 2011, Columbus went shopping for an elite centre and opted to go all-in on 26-year-old Flyers star Jeff Carter for Jakub Voracek, along with a first and third-round pick. The ill-fitting Carter lasted just 39 games in Columbus before the team cut the bait. Meanwhile Voracek has starred in Philly and the draft picks netted the Flyers Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins. Carter has 2 Stanley Cups in Los Angeles.
22. Dallas Stars: Trading James Neal And Matt Niskanen (2011)
It’s a credit to the recent track record of Jim Nill and the Dallas Stars organization that even their worst move of the last decade seems like a pretty defensible one. In fact, there are some who would argue that Dallas now looks as though they got the best of the 2011 deal that saw James Neal and Matt Niskanen head to Pittsburgh for puck-moving defenseman Alex Goligoski. Just not me.
Goligoski spent five and a half seasons with the Stars, and never blossomed into the mobile difference-maker on the back end they had hoped for. Going the other way was Neal, a consistent power forward who has scored no fewer than 21 and as many as 40 goals in each season since. A one-for-one swap would have been close to fair value but the addition of Niskanen, a key cog in several deep playoff teams in Pittsburgh and Washington, moves the needle significantly.
21. Detroit Red Wings: Signing Stephen Weiss (2014)
A heady veteran who could help the Detroit Red Wings extend their postseason streak while mentoring young Wings, Stephen Weiss seemed like a pretty good free agent bet in 2013. But all that veteran know-how still couldn’t cover for the fact that Weiss just wasn’t much of a hockey player anymore.
Shortly after signing a five-year, $24.5 million contract in Motown, his body and hockey skills began to betray him. He was limited to 26 games played and two goals in year one before hernia surgery ended the campaign prematurely. Year two wasn’t much better, and it wasn’t long before the club opted to buy out the three years remaining on the deal. In essence, Detroit chose to absorb a smaller cap hit over six years than keep Weiss around for three.
20. Edmonton Oilers: Drafting Nail Yakupov
When you find yourself picking in the top 10 in nine of 10 drafts, even while being gifted with an unfathomably lucky four No. 1 picks in six years, something has probably gone wrong. Connor McDavid has helped wash at least some of the taste of those lowly years away for the Edmonton Oilers, but his lack of offensive support offers a glimpse into how little they did with most of the other top picks.
Not that it’s a barren wasteland – quite the contrary. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins earned an All-Star nod, Taylor Hall was a potent scorer before being traded for Adam Larsson, and Leon Draisaitl has developed into a bona fide No. 2 centre. However, the less said about Nail Yakupov, last seen clinging to one last NHL opportunity with the Avs, the better. Now in his sixth season, Yakupov has been unable to match the 17 goals he scored as a rookie.
19. Florida Panthers: Signing Dave Bolland (2014)
Dave Bolland has always been a tremendous asset to his team when healthy. He served as a critical and capable two-way threat in Chicago for seven seasons and two Cups before making his way to Toronto. Of course, the “when healthy” caveat can loom very large in some cases, and the injury-prone Bolland is no exception.
That risk didn’t seem to deter the Florida Panthers, who in 2014 lavished the 28-year-old unrestricted free agent with a five-year deal worth $27.5 million. The contract represented stunning money and term for a guy who had played just 58 games over the previous two seasons. Unsurprisingly, the injury bug struck Bolland again, limiting him to 78 games and just seven goals over two seasons in Florida. The Panthers were so anxious to get out of the deal two years in they surrendered promising young forward Lawson Crouse just to unload him to Arizona.
18. Los Angeles Kings: Drafting Thomas Hickey (2007)
A decade after being drafted fourth overall by the Los Angeles Kings, Thomas Hickey has enjoyed a modestly productive six year career and now stands as an NHL veteran of 350 games. That’s of cold comfort to the Kings, who placed him on waivers in 2013 after continuously failing to crack the big club. Then again, that’s the risk you take with a head-scratching, off-the-board draft choice.
According to the final Central Scouting Bureau rankings back in 2007, Hickey was identified as the 26th-best North American skater, essentially making him a fringe first round contender. However, the Kings were sufficiently enamoured with the Seattle Thunderbirds stalwart and took him in the top five. If LA was looking for a franchise blue liner, which they would find in Drew Doughty one year later, they could have snapped up Ryan McDonagh or Kevin Shattenkirk, both of whom were still on the board.
17. Minnesota Wild: Trading Brent Burns (2011)
Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher doesn’t seem to make many mistakes. Even twin 13-year, $98 million mega-deals handed out to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in 2012 haven’t looked too bad five years in. Indeed, it’s tough to get one over on Fletcher, but long-time San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson was able to do just that back in 2011.
Back then, the Wild boasted a big, clean-shaven, 26-year-old forward named Brent Burns, whom they shipped to San Jose for a lucrative package that included Devin Setoguchi, forward prospect Charlie Coyle and a first round pick. Setoguchi would never again score 20 goals, while Coyle has been a decent depth forward and draft choice Zack Phillips never reached the NHL. Now a bearded blue liner, the popular Burns has two All-Star appearances and a Norris trophy to his credit.
16. Montreal Canadiens: Trading For Scott Gomez (2009)
Before the 2009-10 season, which marked both the year that the Alaska native was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens and the year he turned 30, Gomez had averaged 64 points while playing more than 78 games each season. With those numbers in mind, you can’t blame the Habs for figuring their 2009 trade for the one-time Calder trophy winner was a safe bet.
The trade, however, came as Gomez’s career was set to careen off of a cliff. After one more season of solid production, he would go on to average just 20 points over each of his next six seasons in the league. Only three of those took place in Montreal, as he was bought out soon after the 2012 lockout. The deal to acquire him would not look so bad if not for the emergence of the New York Rangers captain and defensive anchor Ryan McDonagh.
15. New Jersey Devils: Signing Ilya Kovalchuk (2010)
The 2001 first overall pick scored exactly 816 points in 816 games over his career, recording two 50-goal seasons and four 40-goal campaigns before leaving for the KHL. But even for a player of that caliber, his 2010 contract negotiation with the New Jersey Devils was truly head-scratching.
The two sides originally agreed on a whopping 17-year deal worth $102 million, a rather obvious attempt to circumvent the salary cap. Instead, the NHL threw out the contract, forcing an adjustment to a 15-year, $100 million deal. With league-imposed penalties, the contract proved not only hefty, but also cost the club significant fine money, a third round draft pick and a much lower 2014 first rounder than they would have otherwise earned. The only saving grace here was that Kovalchuk bailed them out by voiding the deal upon his return to Russia in 2013.
14. New York Islanders: Drafting Michael Dal Colle (2014)
Of the 30 players taken in the first round, 14 have played at least 70 games and seven have scored at least 80 points. In fact, Michael Dal Colle, the No. 5 overall pick of the New York Islanders, remains one of just two players (along with No. 23 pick Connor Bleackley) to have not yet reached the NHL.
A prolific goal scorer in the OHL, Dal Colle has struggled to adjust to the speed and intensity of the AHL game, which more closely mirrors that of the NHL. Josh Ho-Sang, a winger taken by the Islanders later in the first round, seems to have leap-frogged Dal Colle despite perceived attitude issues. This one could still turn around, but it represents yet another example of the organization’s failure to surround Tavares with complimentary talent.
13. New York Rangers: Signing Brad Richards (2011)
In the Glen Sather era of New York Rangers hockey, the challenge of identifying a worst move stems from having too many options, not too few. The decade-long time frame eliminates some sour deals like Bobby Holik’s 2002 albatross, but does create a spirited competition between the six-year, $39 million contract handed out to Wade Redden in 2008 and the nine-year, $60 million pact with Brad Richards three years later.
Both contracts are horrible, but Richards’ is clearly worse. Both veterans played well below expectations with the Blueshirts, but Richards averaged just 50 points in three seasons on Broadway after scoring at least 70 in six of his eight previous campaigns. On top of that, he got the longer term and the slightly higher annual cap hit of the two. The Rangers also got through all but two years of the Redden contract pre-buyout, but ate a whopping six years of Richards’ pact.
12. Nashville Predators: Drafting Chet Pickard (2008)
If you’re going to make something of an off-the-board draft choice, it’s sensible to go about it in the way that Nashville Predators GM David Poile did with the club’s first round selection in 2008. Armed with the No. 15 pick, Poile took Chet Pickard, who wasn’t even the top-ranked North American netminder. The club traded down three spots while securing the Ottawa Senators’ 2009 third-round choice.
But adding draft picks is only valuable when those picks pan out. The Preds still got their man in Pickard, but he never made the NHL goalies like Braden Holtby, Jake Allen and Anders Lindback were taken after him. The third rounder became Taylor Beck, who failed to stick in the NHL and has since signed in Russia. To make matters worse, Ottawa made the most of their trade-up, drafting Erik Karlsson out of the No. 15 slot.
11. Ottawa Senators: Trading Ben Bishop (2013)
Craig Anderson emerged as an emotional leader for the club last year, a season in which the club stood by Anderson as he supported his wife’s cancer battle and the net-minder backstopped the team to an unlikely Eastern Conference Finals berth before winning the Masterton award. But could the Sens have done better than a 36-year-old journeyman?
Anderson’s miraculous 2016-17 season notwithstanding, Ben Bishop probably would have been a better long-term option in the Ottawa net. The Senators used the 6’7″ Bishop as trade bait to acquire rookie Cory Conacher and a fourth round pick from Tampa Bay. Conacher could never duplicate a torrid start to his career that featured 15 goals in his first 35 games and the fourth rounder became Tobias Linberg, a throw-in to the Dion Phaneuf trade. Bishop, meanwhile, was an All-Star and two-time Vezina nominee while backstopping the Lightning to the Stanley Cup Finals.
10. Philadelphia Flyers: Signing Ilya Bryzgalov (2011)
What is it about the Philadelphia Flyers and goaltending? The franchise has consistently produced skilled, tough-nosed talent up front and on the blue line, but when it comes to protecting the net, they seem to continuously fail. Take the goalie personnel decisions made by the team back in 2011.
Enter Ilya Bryzgalov, whom they traded for and promptly signed to a nine-year extension worth $51 million. After initially identifying Sergei Bobrovsky as Bryzgalov’s backup, the club soon realized they might as well trade the youngster rather than have him sit behind their new signee for nine years. All Bobrovsky did upon being traded was immediately win the Vezina in Columbus, his first of two with the Blue Jackets. Bryzgalov? He joined the long line of goalie busts in the City of Brotherly Love and was bought out just two years into his deal.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins: Signing Rob Scuderi (2013)
Nostalgia can be a dangerous allure for sports executives. It is all too easy to be influenced by what a player has done rather than what they will do. Even long-time NHL GM Ray Shero has been guilty of it. As deal-maker for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Shero overestimated the contributions of defenseman Rob Scuderi to the 2008-09 Cup-winning Pens five years prior.
After Scuderi spent four years in Los Angeles, Shero opted to bring the now 35-year-old back into the fold with a four-year, $13.5 million deal. That contract began looking onerous right away, as the Boston College alum showed his age and struggled to match the success of his first stint. If not for a masterstroke by Shero’s replacement, Jim Rutherford, in flipping Scuderi to Chicago for Trevor Daley, the blue liner’s legacy in Pittsburgh would be one of disappointing albatross rather than the gritty defensive hero from 2008-09.
8. San Jose Sharks: Trading For Craig Rivet (2007)
If we’re getting technical here, then no, the deadline deal in February of 2007 that brought Craig Rivet from Montreal to San Jose did not take place in the past 10 years from today’s date. However, it did take place in 2007, so I’m counting it! What isn’t debatable here is how the Sharks’ swap of Josh Gorges and a first rounder for the veteran blue liner and a fifth-round pick worked out in the end.
In San Jose, Rivet struggled to adjust to his new surroundings after spending the first 11 years of his career in Montreal. Despite a career-high 30 assists in 2007-08, Rivet just wasn’t the game-changer anticipated by the Sharks, who not only traded for him but also signed him to a four-year, $14 million deal. The Habs came away with a solid, hard-nosed young blue liner in Gorges. Oh, and a draft pick that became current captain Max Pacioretty.
7. St. Louis Blues: Trading For Ryan Miller (2014)
You can’t blame the St Louis Blues for trying. Back in 2014, the club felt as though they had Stanley Cup-caliber talent that was being stifled by a decidedly un-Cup-worthy net-minding tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. The ambitious Blues therefore decided to go all in to acquire proven big game goalie Ryan Miller from the Buffalo Sabres.
St Louis’ bold push for elite goaltending saw them ship out Halak, young forwards Chris Stewart and William Carrier and draft picks, including their 2015 first rounder, for Miller and Steve Ott. Miller was merely decent for the Blues, certainly not enough of a factor to prevent a four-game first round sweep at the hands of the rival Chicago Blackhawks. And though the trade package hardly proved costly, the Blues gave up Halak and alienated Elliott.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning: Signing Vincent Lecavalier (2008)
Consider that Vincent Lecavalier put forth nearly 950 points over more than 1200 career games, yet remains best remembered for two things: a massive contract and a woefully misguided comparison to Michael Jordan.
Then-Lightning owner Art Williams likened Lecavalier to His Airness shortly after the club drafted him first overall in 1998, stupidly anointing him “the Michael Jordan of hockey”. But it wasn’t Williams who bestowed upon Lecavalier a whopping 11-year, $85 million deal in 2009. Suddenly, being the franchise’s captain and all-time leading scorer wasn’t enough. Just four years into the deal, Lecavalier would represent the most expensive buyout in NHL history, thereby bringing a sad end to a 14-year tenure.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs: Signing David Clarkson (2013)
This isn’t a list where you want your team to boast a myriad of candidates for consideration, particularly given that we are only operating within the framework of a 10-year period. Sadly for Leafs fans, the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t short on terrible moves in their recent history. Even with the Tuukka Rask trade falling just outside the timeline, the Jeff Finger contract, sending Tyler Seguin to Boston and Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa all qualify. But none quite make the cut.
The dishonourable distinction for the Leafs falls to the baffling seven-year, $36.75 million contract they gave David Clarkson in 2013. The tough, likeable forward’s dream marriage to his hometown team was marred by wildly unrealistic expectations brought on by a massive overpay to a player who had never managed 50 points in a season.
4. Vancouver Canucks: Hiring John Tortorella (2013)
Tempting as it may be to highlight the drafting of Jake Virtanen with the sixth pick of the 2014 draft as a colossal failure for the Vancouver Canucks, no move has so instantly ruined the franchise as did the hiring of head coach John Tortorella in 2013. Known as a tough, no-nonsense taskmaster who would demand excellence from his players, Torts instead managed to alienate everyone from fans to media members and players.
From angering star goalie Roberto Luongo to trying to fight the Calgary Flames outside of their dressing room to countless combative press conferences, Tortorella certainly made for an eventful one year tenure in Vancouver. After reaching the postseason in each of the previous five seasons, the Canucks finally missed the playoffs on the current Columbus Blue Jackets head coach’s watch. The franchise still hasn’t fully recovered in the four years since.
3. Vegas Golden Knights: Expansion Drafting Tomas Nosek (2017)
You might think that the oh-so-short history of the Vegas Golden Knights would make this exercise challenging, but picking a worst move for the NHL’s 31st franchise really wasn’t that hard. That has nothing to do with the actually exemplary performance of GM George McPhee and everything to do with the wild and unique nature of the Expansion Draft process.
For the most part, McPhee maximized his opportunity in terms of both NHL-ready talent and future assets. Of course, that wasn’t the case with every Expansion Draft selection. McPhee and the Knights surprised observers by taking middling young forward Tomas Nosek from the Red Wings over the likes of Petr Mrazek and Riley Sheahan without managing to procure another asset from the Original Six franchise.
2. Washington Capitals: Trading Filip Forsberg (2013)
At the trade deadline of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, the Washington Capitals found themselves sitting at .500 and in need of a spark. They opted to bring Martin Erat and Michael Latta into the fold in exchange for a prospect. Things worked out well enough for the Caps, who finished the year by winning 10 of their last 11 games to top the Southeast division.
At the time of the trade, surrendering top prospect Filip Forsberg seemed something of an overpay for a decent depth forward. Now, it seems like an absolute heist for the Nashville Predators. Forsberg has 75 goals over the past three seasons, and that doesn’t even include leading the Preds in scoring during their run to the Stanley Cup Finals last spring. Sounds like someone who the Capitals, who have a long-held reputation for coming up short in the postseason, sure could use.
1. Winnipeg Jets: Signing Ondrej Pavelec (2012)
In fairness to an organization that was almost entirely overhauled upon moving to Winnipeg from Atlanta, we won’t count Thrashers transactions here and will only consider moves made since becoming the Jets in 2011. It was in securing a holdover from the Thrashers era that Winnipeg made their biggest error over the past six years.
Thinking that they had inherited their goaltender of the future, the Jets looked past some middling numbers and handed 24-year-old Ondrej Pavelec a five-year, $19.5 million contract. The money wasn’t outrageous, but the term did anticipate a level of progress and development that hasn’t come for Pavelec. His mediocre play over the term of the contract mirrored that of the team in front of him, who reached the playoffs just once – a four-game first round sweep at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks.
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