The unpredictable, wild, and wacky world of the National Hockey League's free agency period is less than a month away. All 30 teams will be looking to add players to their teams who will hopefully add something to their respective lineup, and take them to where they want to go, be it respectability, the playoffs, or to the Stanley Cup.
Since the advent of free agency, which allowed players to sign with a team of their choosing without having any compensation having to be given to individual's former club, we have seen players signed to deals that end up being a bargain. On the flip side of that, we have witnessed numerous massive contracts given out to forwards, defenseman, and goalies alike, that don't only end up not working out, but also result in the player being overpaid. The salary cap instilled following the 2004-05 lockout and the term limits established in the 2013 CBA have curtailed the problem somewhat, but not completely. Every year, we still see GMs make foolish mistakes during free agency that cripple their franchise for years. However there is a reason why hockey fans get pumped around July 1st and that's because they know their team could find a gem without giving up an asset.
Because of this, we here at TheSportster give you the Top 8 NHL Free Agents Who Will Be Overpaid This Summer and 8 Who Will Be Bargains.
16 8. Trevor Lewis (Overpaid)
As a member of the Los Angeles Kings for the last eight seasons Trevor Lewis has served as a gritty Center on the team's bottom two lines, as well as a vital part of club's penalty kill unit. The 29-year-old has two Stanley Cup titles on his resume, and is a prime candidate to get a more than generous contract this summer as a free agent.
15 8. Chris Kelly (Bargain)
This one comes with a huge asterisk due to the fact that Kelly has been extremely injury prone the last few seasons. Besides missing all but 11 regular season games last year with a broken left femur, the Boston Bruins' center missed a total of 75 contests from the 2012-13 to the 2014-15 campaign. When he actually is on the ice, the 35-year-old is a solid two-way player who excels on the penalty kill, and was a key member of the 2011 Bruins team that won the Stanley Cup.
14 7. Alex Golgoski (Overpaid)
13 7. P.A. Parenteau (Bargain)
12 6. Dan Hamhuis (Overpaid)
Mr. Vancouver himself, hits the free agent market, after reportedly turning down a number of trades that would have sent the 33-year-old to a Stanley Cup contender at this year's trade deadline due to him exercising his no-trade clause.
11 6. Tom Gilbert (Bargain)
If he didn't suffer a knee injury late in the regular season this year, Tom Gilbert would have most likely been traded by the Montreal Canadiens to a team looking for a little extra help on the back end at this year's trade deadline. Unfortunately for the 11-year veteran, the injury knocked him out for the rest of the season.
10 5. Kyle Okposo (Overpaid)
When healthy, John Tavares' right hand man, Kyle Okposo is a skilled winger with the ability to put the puck in the net, as well as set up his teammates with beautiful passes. This past regular season, the 28-year-old was second on the team with 64 points. In the playoffs, he repeated the feat, by recording 8 points, second to Tavares' 11. Despite the impressive stats, he is injury prone. So far in 9 NHL seasons, Okposo has yet to play a full 82-game schedule. In fact, he has only surpassed the 70 game mark four times.
9 5. Cam Ward (Bargain)
Taking a quick look at teams that need a goaltending upgrade, you would have to say the Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars, and Buffalo Sabres. That's not exactly a long list, but neither, is the number of soon-to-be free agent goaltenders who have a Stanley Cup ring on their resume as Cam Ward does.
8 4. Loui Eriksson (Overpaid)
The speedy Swede is set to hit free agency after spending the last three seasons with the Boston Bruins. The former Dallas Star has 504 regular season points in 725 career games, and even had 30 goals in a contract year. Eriksson, who made $4.25 million this year, reportedly turned down a four-year offer from the B's back in January.
7 4. Lee Stempniak (Bargain)
6 3. David Backes (Overpaid)
The team's captain, as well as the heart and soul of the St. Louis Blues, David Backes has been a force at both ends of the ice since making his debut for the organization in the 2006-07 season.
5 3. Matt Cullen (Bargain)
4 2. Andrew Ladd (Overpaid)
The former Winnipeg Jets captain is set to hit the open market. Ladd is a leader and difference-maker who can instantly make any team better. More importantly, he is a two-time Stanley Cup winner as a member of the '06 Carolina Hurricanes and the '10 Chicago Blackhawks. One of the biggest names on the free agent market, the 4th overall pick of the 2004 NHL draft, made $4.4 million last season between Chicago and Winnipeg, and is two years removed from posting the best numbers of his career, when he put up 62 points.
What puts him here, is the fact that Ladd appears to be a player who puts up points on bad to average teams. More importantly, during his five years in Manitoba, the NHL's version of Kevin Love, only brought the Jets to the playoffs once, where they got swept in the first round.
3 2. Keith Yandle (Bargain)
I told you I'd get to him. The 10-year veteran is a top four defenseman who is not only reliable in his own end, but will give your power play a boost, as he excels in the offensive zone as well, where he ranks 6th among NHL blueliners in points over the last five seasons with 225.
Durability is also something the 29-year old brings to the table, as he has played in all 82 regular season games in nearly every year of his career. While he is sure to get a raise on the $5.25 million he made this year, be it from the Rangers or somebody else, the consistency and production he brings on both ends of the ice will make his next deal, whether it is worth between $5-7 million a year, a sure-fire bargain.
2 1. Steven Stamkos (Overpaid)
The biggest name on the upcoming free agent market, Steven Stamkos, is an electrifying sniper and play-maker. (Pan to Toronto Maple Leaf fans everywhere smiling and nodding.) The only thing that has stopped the Markham, Ontario native in his career so far, has been his health.
In 2014, the 26-year-old suffered a broken right tibia, which caused him to miss almost four months of action. This past year bad luck struck again as Stamkos was diagnosed with blood clots (thoracic outlet syndrome).
1 1. Milan Lucic (Bargain)
Looked at as a major addition last offseason after his trade from the Boston Bruins to the Los Angeles Kings, Lucic did not disappoint, as he led his new team in regular season points with 55. Besides his scoring, the physical winger's style of play also fit in well, on a squad that excels in both categories, with players like Marion Gaborik, Anze Kopitar, and Tyler Toffoli, and Dustin Brown at their disposal.
Unfortunately for both sides, Lucic all but disappeared during the playoffs, as he didn't register a single goal, and the Kings, who have been title contenders for the better part of the last five years, were ousted in the first round by the San Jose Sharks. Despite his postseason struggles, his regular numbers point out that the soon to be 10-year vet, is obviously still a difference maker. He is also only 28 years old. With his time in Boston and L.A, winning is all he knows, so expect him to take less money for a chance to keep on winning.
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