In today’s salary cap world, it only takes one bad contract to handcuff your management team. That’s why it’s of the utmost importance for clubs to know exactly what to expect from a player before putting pen to paper, but that’s more easily said than done.
Sometimes, if a team has signed a mediocre-to-poor player to a fat contract with term attached, it’s in the club’s best interest to buy the player out. It takes a GM who’s willing to swallow his pride and admit his mistakes, assuming that it was he who signed the rotten contract in the first place.
Today we’re going to look at 15 players who are still costing their former clubs’ owners financial headaches. In most of these cases they’re causing cap issues as well, as buyouts count against the cap and most of the entries in today’s list are players who were bought out.
Other players appearing on the list are there because they have sustained serious or career-threatening injuries, and thus have been inactive for a long period of time. In these cases the team’s insurance would be on the hook for these salaries. In any case, neither situations are ideal for clubs that thought they were acquiring useful pieces for the future. Enjoy:
15 Stephen Weiss - Detroit
The Detroit Red Wings signed UFA center Styephen Weiss to a five year deal during the 2013 offseason, and it didn’t end well for them. After struggling through two injury-riddled seasons in Motor City, the Red Wings saw a buyout as their best option moving forward with Weiss, and they pulled the trigger on that decision on June 30, 2015, the day before free agency was set to open.
14 Rich Clune - Nashville
Most people will remember that Rich Clune couldn’t play well enough in the 2015-16 season to stick on the Toronto Maple Leafs roster, playing most of the season with the Marlies of the AHL. That’s where he is today as well, as the Maple Leafs have him buried in the minors. It’s possible that Clune has already played his last game in the league, which is a shame.
13 Brad Boyes - Florida
Brad Boyes is a veteran of 822 games, yet he never really seemed to get the respect he deserved while playing in the world’s best hockey league. The Florida Panthers bought out the final year of Boyes’ contract after the 2014-15 season, despite the relatively cheap $2.6 million cap hit and his decent production (he’d just registered 38 points in 78 games, in addition to having solid underlying numbers).
12 Cody Hodgson - Buffalo
Cody Hodgson’s pro career looked extremely promising from the outset. The Vancouver Canucks draft pick was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres before the end of his rookie year, despite putting up 33 points in 63 games with Vancouver. The Canucks had a great team at this point, and Hodgson was having trouble finding a permanent spot in the top six, which is what he so desired.
11 P.A. Parenteau - Montreal
P.A. Parenteau signed a contract this past offseason with the New York Islanders, but was placed on waivers before the season began after not making the team out of camp. The New Jersey Devils took a chance on the 33-year-old, and the winger has already chipped in seven goals—not bad for a waiver wire pickup. With all this going on with Parenteau, some fans probably forget that he still collects a paycheck from the Montreal Canadiens organization.
10 Mason Raymond - Calgary
The one they call “May-Ray” comes in at number 10 on our list. Mason Raymond is still collecting a paycheck from the Calgary Flames organization, despite having not played for them since the first half of last season. Raymond had a disappointing two seasons with the Flames, and the club opted to buyout the final year of Raymond’s deal this past offseason.
9 Chris Pronger - Arizona
Chris Pronger was having a great season in 2011-12 in Philadelphia when it grinded to a halt thanks to a concussion. Pronger would never play another game in the NHL, and today he is still being paid a salary despite being a certified member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
8 Thomas Vanek - Minnesota
Thomas Vanek is having a pretty solid season in Detroit so far in 2016-17. Despite battling injuries here and there, he’s put up 21 points in 26 games, a decent pace for any player, let alone an aging sniper (Vanek turns 32 in a few weeks). While he plies away at his trade in Motor City, many have likely forgotten that his name can still be found on the Minnesota Wild payroll.
7 Roberto Luongo - Vancouver
Some will remember that the Vancouver Canucks retained salary when they dealt Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers, while others may have forgotten by now. Either way, Luongo still indeed collects a check from his former employer out on the West Coast, and that will be the case until he retires. Oh, Vancouver, we can always count on you to screw up your crease situations.
6 Tim Gleason - Toronto
As far as I can tell, Tim Gleason is no longer playing professional hockey anywhere. According to Hockey DB, his last pro games were played in 2014-15 with the Washington Capitals. Lucky for Gleason and his family, he still to this day collects a salary from the Toronto Maple Leafs, despite having only ever played 39 games for the club back in 2013-14.
5 R.J. Umberger - Philadelphia
I think we all remember R.J. Umberger. He was a veteran of 779 NHL games, spent entirely with Philadelphia (on two separate occasions) and Columbus. He enjoyed a few fairly productive seasons in that stretch, highlighted by a 57 point campaign with the Jackets in 2010-11. He was dealt back to Philly (where he had started his career) in 2014, but had by then almost completely lost his scoring touch.
4 Matt Carle - Tampa Bay
Veteran defenseman Matt Carle officially announced his retirement back in November after a career that saw him play 730 NHL games for four different franchises. The Alaska native played six games with the Nashville Predators this season, but ultimately decided that the daily NHL grind was too much for him and his family at this juncture.
3 Andrew Ference - Edmonton
Former Oilers captain Andrew Ference hasn’t played a game with the club since 2015-16, and even then he only saw action in six games early on. Now, Ference isn’t technically costing the Oilers’ salary cap for this season, as he’s on the LTIR, but should he receive a clean bill of health at any point this season, he would cost the Oilers.
2 Dave Bolland - Arizona
The Dave Bolland case in Arizona these days is sort of a weird one. While it’s easy to see why the Coyotes felt safe taking on Chris Pronger’s contract (he’d already announced his retirement), the Bolland contract seems a little risky. Officially Bolland’s ailment is listed as a lower-body injury, and there is no timetable for his return. Now, perhaps the ‘Yotes know something we don’t, but there’s still three years left on the $5 million/year cap hit. It would have to be one heck of a LBI to keep him out for that long.
1 Alexander Semin - Carolina
Alexander Semin’s reputation has always plagued him during his career. No one was ever able to deny his talent level as elite, yet the former 40-goal scorer has already been spit out the bottom of the league at the age of 32, playing his days out in the KHL back in the motherland. Semin first signed a one-year deal with the Hurricanes for the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, and he put up in impressive 44 points in 44 games.
This convinced GM Jim Rutherford to sign Semin to a long-term contract at a pretty hefty price tag ($35 million over five years). The ‘Canes bought out the last three years of the deal after two disappointing seasons in Raleigh, ergo they will be sending a check to Semin through the 2020-21 season. Ouch.
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