Top 20 Players NHL Teams Would Love to Dump This Season

Most NHL teams don’t mind paying out huge contracts to players as long as they get decent value in return. However, things are a bit different when they’re shelling out big bucks for guys who aren’t c

Most NHL teams don’t mind paying out huge contracts to players as long as they get decent value in return. However, things are a bit different when they’re shelling out big bucks for guys who aren’t contributing. Teams also get annoyed when they’ve handed out no-trade or no-movement clauses to a player based on his past performances and his production then tails off. This list is made up of players teams would or should like to get rid of if they had the chance. The main reason the clubs would like to jettison these players is due to contract length, cost, and salary cap hit combined with lack of production, games missed due to injury, and the player’s age.

Some teams would like to trade players because of the return they’d bring and in some instances the players are having off-ice problems. It’s probably easier coming up with a list like this since during the regular season since most teams have had all summer to offload players they didn’t want. However, some clubs are still stuck with a player or two they’d rather not have. These aren’t necessarily bad players, but they just don’t seem to fit in with the club’s future plans or haven’t lived up to their potential since being acquired.

Therefore, these players could be replaced by others of similar age and contracts. Some teams have done a fine job of compiling their rosters and haven’t committed long-term to anybody they may regret. This is why the list doesn’t include each of the 30 franchises. But to even things out here, only one player per team has been chosen for the list. If NHL teams could turn back time or see into the future, these are players they may not have signed or drafted in the first place.

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19 Adam McQuaid - Boston Bruins

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Bruins defenceman Adam McQuaid is on the hook for four more years at a total of $11 million, but hasn’t really given the team its money’s worth. He chipped in with a goal and six assists last year and was a minus-2. The former second-round pick of Columbus has spent his entire six-year NHL career in Boston, but as failed to play a full season. He suited up for just 125 games in the past three campaigns and has 51 points in 283 regular-season games. He’s a big guy, but at 28 the Bruins would probably rather not see him stay around for four more seasons.

18 Jonathan Ericsson - Detroit Red Wings

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to criticize the Red Wings, but they’ve still got to pay Swedish defenceman Jonathan Ericsson $21 million over the next five years. The 31-year-old’s not a bad player, but probably hasn’t lived up to expectations and Detroit may have jumped the gun by signing him to a six-year deal with a modified no-trade clause. Ericsson chipped in with just 15 points last season and was a minus-5. It was the first time he’s managed to play a full season with the team since breaking into the side back in 2007. Ericsson has 83 points in 407 regular-season outings and isn’t overly physical. It’s hard to figure why the Wings offered such a long contract.

17 Kari Lehtonen - Dallas Stars

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Stars’ 31-year-old Finnish goalie Kari Lehtonen was very inconsistent for the club over the last season. He won 34 games for Dallas, but his goals-against average of 2.94 and save percentage of .903 were his worst numbers in a Dallas uniform. Lehtonen has another three years to go on his current contract with a modified no-trade clause and is owed $17 million on it. The reason Dallas would like to let him go elsewhere is because they signed Antti Niemi to a three-year deal in the offseason for $13.5 million. Niemi is arguably as good as his fellow countryman Lehtonen and will be an expensive backup if he just sits on the bench. He’s a year older, but his stats last year and during his career are better than Lehtonen’s.

16 Matt Stajan - Calgary Flames

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Centre Matt Stajan is now 30 years old and has three years to go on a contract which sees him paid about $3 million a year on average. He’s never been a very physical player and doesn’t have natural offensive talent. He scored seven goals and 10 assists last year in 59 games, He’s yet to play a full season since joining Calgary six years ago and has missed about 100 games due to injury in the past four campaigns. Stajan is taking up valuable minutes on club which is filled with excellent young talent such as Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett.

15 Ron Hainsey - Carolina Hurricanes

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Hurricanes haven’t really committed to many players on long-term deals, but defenceman Ron Hainsey has been with the club for two years now and has another two to go at $5.5 million. Hainsey’s 34 years old and has chipped in with 25 points in 163 regular-season contests with Carolina and is a minus-23. He’s also a minus-53 for his career which is a bit of a disappointment after being drafted 13th overall by Montreal in 2000. In another oddity, Hainsey’s yet to play in a postseason game since breaking into the league 13 years ago.

14 Nail Yakupov - Edmonton Oilers

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to believe Russian forward Nail Yakupov is just 21 years old. Deservedly so or not, the former first overall pick has come under fire quite often with Edmonton since many fans perceive him as an underachiever. At his young age and with his potential, Yakupov could fetch a lot on the trade market. The Oilers once again somehow snagged the first overall draft pick this summer with Connor McDavid and could get a lot in return for Yakupov and his two-year, $5 million contract to upgrade their defence and/or goaltending. Yakupov scored just 33 points in Edmonton last year with a minus-35 rating and is minus-72 in his career with 88 points in 192 games. A change of scenery would do all parties good.

13 Dustin Brown - Los Angeles Kings

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

With the Mike Richards and Slava Voynov messes seemingly behind them the Kings would probably like to unload team captain Dustin Brown due to his contract and dwindling production. Brown still has five years to go on his contract at an average of just under $6 million a year. The 30-year-old former 13th-overall draft pick has done a great job for the Kings, but his physical style of play may be taking its toll. The Kings missed the playoffs last season and Brown chipped in with just 11 goals and 16 assists and was a minus-17. It was the second straight season he’s scored 27 points and his production has declined steadily since 2007. Brown would cost $26.5 million if LA was able to buy him out and a trade is the best scenario.

12 Travis Zajac - New Jersey Devils

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Centre Travis Zajac has been with New Jersey for nine seasons now and the team hasn’t really accomplished much other than making it to the Stanley Cup Final back in 2011-12 and they haven’t made the playoffs since. Zajac’s 30 years old and still has five years to go on his contract at an average of $5.75 million a year. Zajac had just 11 goals and 14 assists last season, but has a no-trade clause, making it hard to unload him. There are rumors that the Maple Leafs are interested in him and a change of scenery could give his career a much-needed boost.

11 David Bolland -. Florida Panthers

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers paid way too much for David Bolland and owe him $5.5 million per season for another four years. He’s being paid top-six forward money even though he’s basically a solid third liner and penalty killer who is injury prone. Still, the Panthers signed him to a five-year deal worth $27.5 million and gave him a modified no-trade clause. He chipped in with 23 points in 53 games last season and that’s probably close to what the Panthers should expect out of Bolland for the next four years.

10 Josh Georges - Buffalo Sabres

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Sabres may regret taking on defenceman Josh Gorges' contract. His salary is $3.9 million per year and the 31-year-old has a modified no-trade clause. The Sabres acquired him from division rivals, the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a 2nd round pick. Gorges appeared in just 46 games last season and was a minus-26. Gorges is a stay at home defenceman who can kill penalties and block shots, but is that really worth his contract? He still has three years to go on his deal.

9 Patrick Kane - Chicago Blackhawks

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

This might seem blasphemous, from a hockey perspective, but obviously there's more to it than hockey. There’s no question that former first-overall draft choice Patrick Kane is one of the league’s top players, but the winger is now on an eight-year $84 million deal. He’s on a no-movement clause, but he’s giving the Hawks headaches due to his continuous off-ice problems. Kane’s average salary is $10.5 million and with that kind of money Chicago could replace the 26-year-old with another elite forward who behaves himself off the ice. The Hawks wouldn't just trade him for anybody, but if they're offered a king's ransom, they should definitely consider it.

8 Alexei Emelin - Montreal Canadiens

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Canadiens’ defenceman Alexei Emelin is under contract with the team for another three years at a cost of $12.5 million, but the Habs are paying decent money for little in return in either end of the ice. The 29-year-old has been with the club for four seasons and has managed to suit up for an average of just 58 games a year. He contributed 14 points last campaign and has 50 points in his regular-season career with a minus-12 rating. He’s managed just four points in 27 postseason games and better players could be found elsewhere who don’t have a no-trade clause like Emelin does.

7 Eric Nystrom - Nashville Predators

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Left-winger Eric Nystrom has turned 32 years old now and the former 10th-overall draft pick of the Calgary Flames hasn’t lived up to his potential. He’s scored just 33 points in 139 games with Nashville over two seasons and has just 116 points in 547 regular-season contests. He’s a minus-67 during his career including minus-25 with Nashville. Somehow Nystrom was given a modified no-trade clause and he’s under contract for another two years at $3 million per. The Predators should be giving his ice time to their developing youngsters.

6 Tanner Glass - New York Rangers

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


Thirty-one-year-old left winger Tanner Glass was a disappointment with the Rangers last year. He wasn’t brought in as a goal scorer, but he’s not really much of an enforcer either. He scored just one goal last season to go along with five assists and a minus-12 rating. Glass added a lone assist in 19 postseason games and as just 60 points in 443 career games with a minus-48 rating. He also has a goal and assist in 56 playoff contests. Glass is taking up a valuable roster spot which could be filled by a younger and better player and still has two years to go on his three-year deal.

5 Bobby Ryan - Ottawa Senators

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

While they've only had him for a couple of seasons, the Senators signed Bobby Ryan to en seven-year, $50.75 million contract extension last year and may already be getting buyer's remorse. Ryan managed 18 goals and 54 points which is fine for a second-line winger, but not enough for a guy paid like a first liner. He was off to a great start last season, on pace for career highs in January, but the well got dry late in the season and he wasn't very effective for Ottawa in their late playoff push. 

4 Vincent Lecavalier - Philadelphia Flyers

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt the Flyers would rather be without 34-year-old centre Vincent Lecavalier as his best days are behind him. He’s got another three years left on his five-year deal though which pays him an average of $4.5 million a year. To make matters worse, he’s got a no-movement clause included in it. Lecavalier is a former first overall draft pick who scored 20 goals for Philly in his first year, but scored just eight goals and 12 assists last season in 57 games and is a minus-23 overall as a Flyer. He also has a pair of points in seven postseason games where he’s a minus-5. Lecavalier is more or less a bottom-six forward these days.

3 Rob Scuderi - Pittsburgh Penguins

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Defenceman Rob Scuderi’s name has been thrown about a lot lately when it comes to players the Penguins could do without. The 36-year-old makes $3.375 million a year on average and is under contract for two more years. He had a goal and nine assists last year and has just eight goals in 720 career games with one more in 117 playoff contests. The Penguins would rather be paying a younger player the same or less money for the same production they receive in both ends of the ice from Scuderi.

3. David Clarkson - Columbus Blue Jackets

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jackets have several players on long-term contracts with David Clarkson being one they probably regret trading for. Columbus acquired the 31-year-old forward from Toronto after he quickly became a whipping boy of the fans there for his underwhelming play and boneheaded penalties. Columbus was paying the injured Nathan Horton anyway and figured they might as well get a warm body out of the deal. Clarkson suffered a season-ending injury about a week after joining Columbus and he’s got five years left on his seven-year $36.75 million deal with a no-movement clause. Clarkson obviously didn’t get any smarter over the summer as he was recently thrown out of a preseason game for kneeing on his first shift. The NHL has requested a video of the incident.

2 Joe Thornton - San Jose Sharks

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Sharks are committed to elite centre Joe Thornton for two more years at $6.75 million. However, they tried to send him a message just over a year ago by taking the captaincy away from him. They couldn’t move him though since he has a no-movement clause in his contract. The Sharks missed the playoffs last season and Thornton had his lowest points-per-game total in 14 seasons with 16 goals and 49 assists. He was just a minus-4 on the year, but it was the first time he’s been a minus since back in 2000-01. It’s no secret the Sharks believe they wouldn’t be weakened if Thornton left and they could still get a decent return for him.

1 Dion Phaneuf - Toronto Maple Leafs  

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

After putting fans through one of the most miserable seasons in Leafs history, the team basically got rid of one major player during the offseason when Phil Kessel was shipped to Pittsburgh. The ripping apart of the roster didn’t happen and the squad is still left with the likes of Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul and captain Dion Phaneuf. The fans would like to see Phaneuf go because of his lack of leadership skills and production as well as his penchant for taking bad penalties, giveaways, and making bad plays.

The Leafs have are loaded up with young defenceman such as Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner who should be being groomed for the top two spots on the blue line during the Leafs supposed rebuild. The 30-year-old has five years to go on his seven-year deal though with an average salary of $7 million and a no-movement clause.

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Top 20 Players NHL Teams Would Love to Dump This Season