The NHL has definitely had to deal with inflation over the past few decades and the current devaluation of the Canadian dollar means players are raking in at least 25 per cent more if they convert their paycheques to loonies. Some NHL clubs have done a good job with the salary cap and keeping things under control. However, each of the 30 teams is in possession of at least one bad contract for the 2015-16 season and that’s what this list consists of.
Some teams had more than one candidate for bad contracts while others were quite obvious. But several factors had to be considered to decide which player actually had a team’s worst contract. Some of the factors that were taken into consideration when putting together the list were the player’s age, games played per-season on average, points-per season in the past, last season’s performance, the length of the contract and how many years are remaining, if his point total is declining, and where exactly he ranks on the team’s pay scale.
Oddly enough, out of all 30 NHL teams, there is just one goalie who makes this list and that was mainly due to his poor performance last season. The rest of the players are skaters of all positions and nationalities. Of course, a player could have a career year and prove he doesn’t belong on this list, but there’s also a good chance many of them will make next season’s list too if they don’t pull up their socks. Below is every NHL team’s worst contract for the 2015-16 season.
30 Anaheim Ducks - Clayton Stoner
The Ducks are paying 30-year-old Clayton Stoner $3.25 million per season on a four-year deal and he’s still got three years to go on it. Unfortunately, Stoner chipped in with just a goal and seven assists in 69 games last season and added a goal in 16 playoff outings. He’s never scored more than 10 points or two goals in a season and his last salary added up to a cap hit of just $1.05 million per year. He hasn’t done anything to justify his raise and Stoner scored just 2.452 points per million dollars last year.
29 Arizona Coyotes - Mike Smith
Goaltender Mike Smith will be making $5.67 million this season as he’s on a six-year, $34 million deal with four years to go on it. Smith posted a record of 14-42-5 last season to go along with his goals-against average of 3.16 and save percentage of 90.4. It’s doubtful Smith will have a season as bad as 2014-15, but he’s going to have to stand on his head to justify his contract.
28 Boston Bruins - Patrice Bergeron
Center Patrice Bergeron is the highest paid Bruin this season with a salary of $8.75 million and a cap hit of $6.875 million. It’s the third year of an eight-year contract worth $55 million, but his numbers on the ice don’t add up to what he’s being paid. Bergeron’s a steady, but not elite scorer, who had 23 goals and 32 assists last year and added nine points in 12 playoff contests. Bergeron’s career high in points for a season is 73 and he delivered just eight points per million dollars last season. Great player yes, but not the best contract.
27 Buffalo Sabres - Zach Bogosian
Twenty-four-year-old defenceman Zach Bogosian is on a seven-year, $36 million deal which will pay him $5.25 million this season with a cap hit of $5,142,857. The Sabres acquired him in the trade for Evander Kane and he scored seven assists in 21 games for them. He had 13 points in 41 games with the Jets before the deal. In seven NHL seasons, Bogosian’s highest point total has been 30 along with 10 goals. He’s managed to stay healthy enough to play just one season and scored just 3.9 points per million dollars last year.
26 Calgary Flames - Ladislav Smid
Defenceman Ladislav Smid is entering the third year of his four-year, $14 million deal. He’ll be paid $3.75 million this season with a cap hit of $3.5 million. The 29-year-old was injured most of last year and scored just one assist in 31 games and was a minus-12. However, the former Edmonton Oiler had just eight points in 72 games the previous season and his career high has been 15 points. In addition, he’s never played a full campaign. Smid tallied a terrible 0.29 points per million dollars last year and played just under 14 minutes per game. He’s also a minus-61 for his career.
25 Carolina Hurricanes - Eric Staal
There’s no doubt captain Eric Staal is the heart and soul of the Hurricanes, but he’s not worth the $9.5 million salary he’ll be making in 2015-16. Luckily for Carolina, the cap hit is a little less at $8.25 million and this is the final year of his seven-year, $57.75 million deal. Staal hasn’t played a playoff game since 2009 and the team hasn’t received its money’s worth with him. His production last year was 54 points in 77 games and the previous season he registered 61 points. This isn’t enough to make the left-winger one of the league’s best-paid players. Staal chipped in with 6.5 points per million dollars last season.
24 Chicago Blackhawks - Corey Crawford
Nobody can take Corey Crawford's two Stanley Cups away from him and in no way is this meant to say he's a bad goalie. He makes the saves when he has to and it's not his fault he has an amazing team in front of him. But it's also fair to say that there are several other goalies around the league, paid less, who could win with the Blackhawks' roster. Crawford carries a $6 million cap hit for the next five years. That was one of the reasons the Hawks had to sell off pieces like Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp this offseason. To think that Carey Price, the best goalie in the NHL, carried just a half million more on his cap hit, with his team far more dependent on him, puts Crawford's contract into perspective.
23 Colorado Avalanche - Francois Beauchemin
Veteran defenceman Francois Beauchemin is the fourth-highest paid skater and top-paid blue liner on the Avalanche after signing a three-year, $13.5 million contract as a free agent this summer. The former Duck is now 35 years old and his cap hit and salary are both $4.5 million this season. He scored 23 points in 64 games with Anaheim last year and added nine assists in 16 playoff encounters. Beauchemin’s a steady player, but the Avalanche have given him a $3 million raise over his last tree-year contract. He scored 6.6 points per million dollars in 2014/15.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets - David Clarkson
No matter what team he plays for, winger David Clarkson would make this list. He’s entering just the third year on his seven year-deal worth $36.75 million which came courtesy of the Toronto Maple Leafs. To make matters worse, he has a no-movement clause. Clarkson posted 10 goals and five assists in 61 contests with Toronto and Columbus last year before suffering a season-ending injury. He had 24 points the previous campaign. The 31-year-old will make $5.5 million this year with a cap hit of $5.25 million. However, he’ll also be on this list for the next two years at least as his salary rises to $7 million a season next year. Clarkson delivered 2.9 points per million dollars last season.
21 Dallas Stars - Jason Spezza
Centre Jason Spezza’s certainly a better-than-average hockey player, but he’s 32 years old now and the Stars have signed him to a four-year deal worth $30 million. This puts the team’s pay scale out of whack since he’s now the highest paid player on a team that includes Tyler Seguin, Patrick Sharp, and Jamie Benn. Spezza’s salary cap and salary clock in at $7.5 million in 2015-16 even though his production dropped to 17 goals last year and 62 points for the non-playoff team. Spezza managed 8.9 points per million dollars last year.
20 Detroit Red Wings-Mike Green
Defenceman Mike Green used to put up big numbers from the blue line, but his production dropped off after a 76-point campaign in 2009/10. This was mainly due to the fact he played just 116 regular-season games over the next three years. Green’s still just 29 years old and he bounced back with 15 goals and 30 assists for Washington last year and was a +15. However, he struggled in the postseason with just two points in 14 games. The Wings signed the free agent to a three-year deal worth $18 million this summer with a $6 million salary and cap hit. He’s now the highest paid defender on the team with his salary cap and tied with Nicklas Kronwall for the third-highest paycheque on the team this season. Green scored 7.4 points per million dollars in 2014/15.
19 Edmonton Oilers - Nikita Nikitin
Defenceman Nikita Nikitin will be paid $4.5 million this season and his salary cap is the same. He played just 42 games last season and scored 10 points to go along with a minus-12 rating and just 21 hits. The most games he’s ever played in an NHL season has been 66 and has averaged just half a season in three of his five campaigns. For some reason he received a $2 million raise over his previous contract of $2.5 million with Columbus even though his hits per game nave been below one in four of his five campaigns.
His career high point total for a season is 32 and he’s pointless in just five career postseason outings. Nikitin scored 2.2 points per million dollars last year.
18 Florida Panthers - Dave Bolland
Even though he’s never played a full NHL season due to a variety of injuries, the Panthers signed centre David Bolland to a five-year deal worth $27.5 million with a modified no-trade clause. He’s got four years to go on the contract and will cost the team $5.5 million in salary and cap space in 2015-16. He scored 23 points in 53 games last year and his career highs have been 19 goals and 27 points, which were posted back in 2008-09. He’s managed to suit up for just 111 games over the past three campaigns and scored 4.2 points per million dollars in 2014-15.
17 Los Angeles Kings - Dustin Brown
Right-winger Dustin Brown will be paid $7.25 million in 2015-16 with a salary cap hit of $5.875 million. He’s also got four more years to go after this season on his eight-year deal for $47 million. The Kings’ captain managed to play all 82 games last year, but scored just 11 goals and 16 assists with a minus-17 rating as the team missed the playoffs. He also scored 27 points the previous season and 29 the year before that. Brown’s been paid like an elite scorer, but he’s basically a good second or third line player. He scored 4.6 points per million dollars in 2014-15.
16 Minnesota Wild - Mikko Koivu
Centre Mikko Koivu is another player who’s being paid like a first-liner, but is producing like a second-liner. The 32-year-old captain of the Wild will be paid $7.29 million in 2015-16 with a salary cap hit of $6.75 million. He’ll still have two more years to go on his seven-year, $47.25 million deal after this campaign. Koivu scored 14 goals and 34 assists in 80 games last year which worked out to 7.1 points per million dollars. His career highs were 22 goals, 49 assists, and 71 points, which were all scored back in 2009-10.
15 Montreal Canadiens - Jeff Petry
Montreal defenceman Jeff Petry has a no-movement clause in his six-year, $33 million contract even though he’s played just 314 career regular season games. He was acquired from Edmonton last season and scored seven points in 19 outings with the Habs after posting 15 points in 59 games out west. He ended the season with a minus-28 rating and is minus-68 in his career. Petry’s career-high point total is 25 in 73 games with the Oilers in 2011-12. He’ll be paid $7 million this year with $4 million in salary, a $3 million signing bonus and a cap hit of $5.5 million. The 27-year-old will take home the same money as P.K. Subban in 2015-16 and is will make more than everybody else on the club. Petry scored 7.1 points per million dollars last season.
14 Nashville Predators - Paul Gaustad
It’s not a lot of money these days, but Nashville centre Paul Gaustad will be paid $3 million this season with a salary cap hit of $3.25 million. This is the last year of a four-year, $13 million deal. The 33-year-old scored just four goals and 10 assists in 73 matches last campaign and went pointless in six playoff encounters. He had 21 points the season before and played just 23 games with five points in 2012-13. Gaustad has never scored more than 12 goals a season and he hit his career high of 36 points in 2007-08. He scored 4.3 points per million dollars last year.
13 New Jersey Devils - Travis Zajac
There are a few candidates on the Devils to make this list according to their 2015-16 salaries. These include defenceman Andy Greene at $5 million, forward Ryane Clowe at $4.85 million and forward Tuomo Ruutu at $5 million. However, it looks like the worst contract belongs to the team’s top paid player, Travis Zajac as the centre will be paid $6.5 million in 2015-16 with a cap hit of $5.75 million. That’s a lot of money for the 30-year-old who’s entering just the third season of an eight-year deal worth $46 million.
Zajac scored just 11 goals and 14 assists last year and was minus-3. He scored just 48 points the season before in 80 games and played just 63 contests between 2011 and 2013. Zajac has reached the 20-goal mark in just two of his nine NHL seasons with his high marks being 25 goals, 42 assists and 67 points back in 2008-09. He managed just 4.3 points per million dollars last campaign.
12 New York Islanders - Mikhail Grabovski
Centre Mikhail Grabovski has three years to go on a four-year deal worth $20 million with a salary and cap hit both at $5 million for 2015-16. Grabovski plays with a lot of heart and that has led to injury problems, especially with concussions. Captain John Tavares is making just $1 million more than Grabovski with a cap hit of $500,000 more. Grabovski has never played a full NHL season, with the closest being 81 games in 2010-11.
He made 51 appearances last year and totaled 19 points. He also went pointless in three postseason outings. His career bests also came in 2010-11 when he scored 29 goals and 29 assists. The 31-year-old Grabovski scored 3.8 points per million dollars in 2014-15 and will be an expensive signing if he doesn’t stay healthy.
11 New York Rangers - Marc Staal
Rangers’ blue liner Marc Staal will take home $7 million in salary this season while his cap hit is $5.7 million. He will then have another four years to go on his six-year, $34.2 million deal. Staal scored 20 points in 80 games last season and added just one assist in 19 playoff outings, was a minus-8 and had only 16 hits. He managed 14 points the previous season in 72 contests and played just 67 games in total from 2011 to 2013 due to injuries. The 28-year-old has a no-movement clause, but his best year yielded just 29 points in 2010-11. He’s cracked the 20-point mark just one other time in eight seasons. Staal scored 5.1 points per million dollars in 2014-15.
10 Ottawa Senators - Marc Methot
It will cost the Ottawa Senators $4.9 million to pay defenceman Marc Methot this season and his cap hit will be the same. This is for a 30-year-old who is entering the first year of a four-year deal worth $19.6 million. Methot managed to suit up for just 45 games last season and scored a lone goal and 11 points. He then went pointless in six postseason contests. He never played a full season since joining the league with Columbus in 2006-07. Methot’s career highs have been six goals, 17 assists and 23 points, which he achieved in 75 games in 2013-14. He scored 3.7 points per million dollars last season.
9 Philadelphia Flyers - Andrew MacDonald
The Flyers’ 28-year-old defenceman Andrew MacDonald is on the salary cap book for $5 million this season with his salary being $4.5 million. He’s entering the second season of a six-year, $30 million deal. He played just 58 games last campaign and racked up only 12 points and was a minus-5. He played all 82 games the previous season and scored four goals and 23 assists for a career-high 27 points. He’s played just one full season in his eight-year career and while he’s a good shot blocker, he isn’t much of an offensive threat and is -19 for his career. MacDonald, a former Islander, scored 2.4 points per million dollars in 2014-15.
8 Pittsburgh Penguins - Pascal Dupuis
Forward Pascal Dupuis is a good bottom-six forward when he’s healthy. However, his games played over the past three seasons have been 16, 39, and 48. The last time he played a full season was in 2011-12. He’s entering the third season of a four-year deal worth $15 million and has a modified no-trade clause. Dupuis will be paid $4 million this year with a cap hit of $3.75 million. However, the team can’t really afford to use up the cap space if he’s injured again due to the hefty salaries of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Kris Letang. Dupuis contributed 2.9 points per million dollars last year.
7 San Jose Sharks - Paul Martin
The Sharks signed free-agent defenceman Paul Martin to a four-year, $19.4 million contract this summer and the 34-year-old is entering the first season of it. He’ll be paid $5.75 million in 2015-16 with a salary cap hit of $4.85 million. Martin scored just 20 points in 74 games last season and managed to play just 73 games in total the previous two years. Martin’s career high in goals is six with 32 assists and 37 points being his best totals in those departments. However, the 37 points came back in 2005-06 with the Devils. Martin posted four points per million dollars last season.
6 St. Louis Blues - Carl Gunnarson
Blues’ defenceman Carl Gunnarson is on the last year of a three-year contract he signed with the Maple Leafs for just under $10 million. He’s set to be paid $3.45 million this campaign with a salary cap hit of $2.95 million. He tallied just 12 points in 61 games in 2014-15 and was pointless in six playoff fixtures. In addition, the 28-year-old recorded just 42 hits last year after posting 166 the previous season. His shot blocking also decreased from 176 to 114. Gunnarson’s career high in goals is four with his assists being 16 and points topping out at 20. There are a lot of better defenceman who are making less money. Gunnarson posted 3.8 points per million dollars last year.
5 Tampa Bay Lightning - Valtteri Filppula
Lightning Valtteri Filppula is entering the third year of a five-year, $25 million deal which will pay him $6 million this season. However, his cap hit will be just $5 million. There’s a no-movement clause in the contract and he’s getting a bit too much money considering all the young talent Tampa has to lock up these days. Filppula scored just 12 goals and 36 assists last year and was a minus-14. He picked things up in the playoffs with 14 points in 26 games. He rarely hits anybody though with just 25 in 82 contests in 2014-15.
He’s a pretty consistent and durable player who doesn’t miss much action due to injury, but his career highs are 25 goals, 43 assists and 66 points, which make him a pricey second-line player at $6 million. The 31-year-old registered 9.6 points per million dollars last year.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs - Dion Phaneuf
With a no-movement clause and a seven-year deal in place for $49 million, defenceman Dion Phaneuf possesses the worst contract for the 2015-16 season with the Maple Leafs. Phaneuf is paid like a top-two defenceman, but he’s a third or fourth at best. His point totals aren’t too bad, but the captain’s leadership qualities and costly mistakes are hurting the team. He’s entering just the second year of his contract and his salary will be $8 million this campaign with the cap hit at $7 million. He scored 29 points in 70 appearances last season, but the 30-year-old had just three goals and was -11. He hit the 20-goal mark as a rookie and even though he’s scored 400 points in 750 games, is still minus-8 for his career. He’s also minus-18 in 32 playoff games. Phaneuf produced 4.1 points per million dollars in 2014-15.
3 Vancouver Canucks - Chris Tanev
Canucks’ defenceman Chris Tanev will eat up $4.45 million in salary cap space this year while making a salary of $3.5 million. He’s entering the first year of a five-season deal worth $22.25 million and was paid a signing bonus of $4 million. The contract tops out at $5.25 million and it’s hard to justify. The 25-year-old scored 20 points in 70 regular-season games and added three assists in six playoff encounters. He recorded 170 blocked shots, but just 23 hits during the season. Tanev’s appeared in just 226 NHL contests in five seasons and played less than 40 games in three of them.
His career highs are six goals, 18 assists and 20 points. Tanev hasn’t earned his contract raise just yet even though he scored 10 points per million dollars last year on his $2 million deal.
2 Washington Capitals - Brooks Orpik
Washington defenceman Brooks Orpik is a solid veteran, but is being overpaid with his five-year, $27.5 million contract. Orpik is entering just the second year of the deal and his salary and cap hit are both $5.5 million in 2015-16. The 34-year-old chipped in with 19 assists in 78 games last year and added a pair of helpers in 14 playoff contests. He’s not afraid to block shots and hit the opposition, but isn’t worth the money at his age due to the lack of production he offers in return. The former Penguin was never gifted offensively as his career-high of 25 points shows. Also, he’s never scored more than two goals in a season. Orpik contributed 3.5 points per million dollars last year.
1 Winnipeg Jets - Tyler Myers
With his cap hit of $5.5 million and salary of $5 million for 2015-16, Jets’ defenceman Tyler Myers has the club’s worst contract. He’s got four years left on the deal which is worth $38.5 million and the Buffalo Sabres jumped the gun when they signed him to it and handed him a $10 million signing bonus. Myers had a good rookie season in 2009-10 when he played all 82 games and scored 11 goals and 37 assists and was plus-13. He played 80 games the next season, but then appeared in just 55, 29 and 62 the following three years. He scored 15 points in 24 games with Winnipeg last year after the Sabres traded him and had 13 points in 47 games with Buffalo.
His production has fallen off since his rookie year and the 25-year-old is minus-22 for his career and minus-6 in 17 playoff outings. Myers chipped in with 5.1 points per million dollars in 2014-15.