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
29 Arizona Coyotes - Mike Smith
28 Boston Bruins - Patrice Bergeron
27 Buffalo Sabres - Zach Bogosian
26 Calgary Flames - Ladislav Smid
25 Carolina Hurricanes - Eric Staal
24 Chicago Blackhawks - Corey Crawford
23 Colorado Avalanche - Francois Beauchemin
22 Columbus Blue Jackets - David Clarkson
21 Dallas Stars - Jason Spezza
20 Detroit Red Wings-Mike Green
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.
18 Florida Panthers - Dave Bolland
17 Los Angeles Kings - Dustin Brown
16 Minnesota Wild - Mikko Koivu
15 Montreal Canadiens - Jeff Petry
14 Nashville Predators - Paul Gaustad
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.
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.
11 New York Rangers - Marc Staal
10 Ottawa Senators - Marc Methot
9 Philadelphia Flyers - Andrew MacDonald
8 Pittsburgh Penguins - Pascal Dupuis
7 San Jose Sharks - Paul Martin
6 St. Louis Blues - Carl Gunnarson
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.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs - Dion Phaneuf
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.
2 Washington Capitals - Brooks Orpik
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.
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