NHL Free Agents: 10 Players That Deserve a Pay Cut in 2012-2013

Patrick Drottar@pdrottarCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2012

NHL Free Agents: 10 Players That Deserve a Pay Cut in 2012-2013

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    At the end of each NHL season, one of the most exciting events to look forward to is the beginning of the free-agent period.

    The time when all of the rumors created in the offseason are put to rest as the league's top available players decide which teams they want to take their talents to.

    Unfortunately for some teams, they are not the only ones pursuing a specific player and are sometimes forced to pull out the big bucks to sign the player they want.

    This sometimes results in several players receiving more money than deserved.

    There are times when the risk pans out, and the team's front office looks like geniuses.

    However, more often than not, there are instances where the player cannot continue the play that earned him the pay raise in the first place.

    Regardless, this offseason will be no different, and teams will be shelling out the big bucks for some of the most talented free agents.

    Some of the top free agents this offseason are less deserving than others, and these 10 players certainly deserve a pay cut.

    All numbers provided by CapGeek.com.

Kristian Huselius

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    In July of 2008, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed former Calgary Flames winger Kristian Huselius in hopes that his impressive play would help finally put the young franchise on the map.

    In his first two seasons in Ohio, Huselius did exactly that as he helped the Jackets clinch their first playoff berth in franchise history in 2009.

    That year, Huselius finished with 21 goals and 56 points and would continue his success the following season with 23 points and 63 points in 2009-2010.

    However, since then, Huselius has barely been on the ice for the Jackets due to injuries and has struggled when he was healthy.

    From the beginning of last season until now, the 33-year-old has only been able to play in 41 games and has only registered 23 points, as well as an unimpressive plus/minus rating of minus-17.

    Coming into this year, a make-or-break season for the Swede, Huselius suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the offseason, forcing the team to sign Vinny Prospal as a replacement.

    Because of his recent misfortunes, Huselius' time in Columbus has most likely come to an end at the end of this year.

    Any team looking to sign Huselius in the offseason will not give him anywhere close to the $4.75 million he is making right now.

Brian Rolston

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    With the Minnesota Wild from 2005 to 2008, veteran Brian Rolston had the three best seasons in his 16-year career.

    His play earned him a four-year deal worth $20 million with the New Jersey Devils, the place where he won a Stanley Cup in 1995.

    However, in three seasons with the Devils, Rolston's numbers declined drastically, as he could not exceed more than 30 points each year.

    Because of this, the Devils waived Rolston during the 2010-2011 season, a decision that had been discussed between the two parties before the season had even begun.

    Rolston would eventually be picked up by the New York Islanders and is set to become a free agent at the end of the year.

    In 32 games with the Islanders, the 38-year-old has only contributed four goals and eight points and has clearly shown that age is getting the best of him.

    Rolston currently makes a little over $5 million a year, and there is a good chance he will not be seeing those kinds of numbers this offseason.

    Although he cannot contribute as much as he has in the past, Rolston does bring a leadership quality to the table.

Daymond Langkow

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    In 2006-07, Calgary Flames center Daymond Langkow had the best season of his long career, registering 33 goals and 77 points.

    The following season, Langkow would record his second consecutive 30-goal season and finished third on the Flames with 65 points. In the offseason, the Flames re-signed Langkow to a four-year, $18 million contract that will expire this offseason.

    Since his two impressive seasons, Langkow's numbers have decreased every season, with his point totals going from 65 points to 49 in 2008-09 and to 37 points in 2009-10, his worst numbers since 1999.

    Along with the unimpressive numbers, Langkow also missed the final 10 games of the 2010 season after being struck in the back of the neck by a slap shot that would cause him to miss 78 of the team's 82 games in 2010-11.

    At 34 years old and with 14 years of NHL experience under his belt, it was unknown whether or not Langkow would return to the ice.

    In the end, however, after nearly a year away from the game, Langkow returned to the ice in March of last season and was later traded to the Phoenix Coyotes in the offseason to play in his 15th NHL season.

    So far this season, Langkow has contributed six goals and 18 points in 34 games for the Coyotes.

    Unfortunately for Langkow, he is on pace for another season of low numbers.

    Langkow is currently making $4.5 million a year, which is only $500,000 less than team captain Shane Doan.

    If Langkow chooses to continue his career next year, he will most likely receive a short-term contract worth substantially less.

    Like Rolston, Langkow could bring an important leadership quality to the table for a young team.

Dustin Penner

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    In Dustin Penner's first full season in the NHL, he recorded 29 goals and 45 points, helping the Anaheim Ducks win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

    At the end of the season, Penner's entry-level contract expired and because of salary cap issues, the Ducks were unable to re-sign the youngster. As a result, Penner was signed to a five-year, $21.25 million deal by the Edmonton Oilers.

    Penner did well with the Oilers, and in 2009-2010, he had career highs in goals (32), assists (31) and points (63).

    The following season, with the Oilers struggling, Penner was one of the most talked about players who could be traded at the trade deadline.

    On the day of the deadline, Penner was traded to the Los Angeles Kings as they made a push for the playoffs.

    Since being acquired by the Kings, Penner has struggled.

    In the remaining 19 games of last season, the 29-year-old was only able to score two goals and four assists.

    This season has been more of the same for Penner, as he has only scored two goals in 30 games.

    He is currently on pace to have the worst season in his career and will most likely suffer because of it in free agency this offseason.

    If the Kings decide to re-sign him, he will most likely have to take a pay cut from the $4.25 million he is currently making.

Ales Hemsky

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    Ales Hemsky has spent his entire career with the Edmonton Oilers after being drafted in 2001.

    Although he has always been considered part of the team, Hemsky seems to always be involved in trade rumors with the chance that he could be shipped out of town if the front office found an interesting deal.

    From 2005 to 2009, Hemsky has put up some impressive numbers, including a career-high 77 points in 2005-06 and 71 in 2007-08.

    Since then, Hemsky has unfortunately been bitten by the injury bug and has yet to play a full season.

    In 2009-10, Hemsky only played in the first 22 games before suffering a left shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery. In that time, Hemsky was still able to contribute a point per game.

    The following season, Hemsky would once again miss time due to injuries, including a concussion and yet another shoulder injury.

    However, when healthy, Hemsky still contributed 14 goals and 42 points, as he, Taylor Hall and Sam Gagner were the team's top line.

    This season, Hemsky has played in 28 games and scored three goals and 11 assists.

    Hemsky has shown that he can be one of the top wingers in the league when he is healthy.

    However, his health is a big risk and could cause a team to offer substantially less than the $4.1 million per year the 28-year-old currently earns.

Jason Blake

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    While with the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs, Jason Blake proved that he could be a 60-point season type of player.

    In his last full season with the Maple Leafs, Blake recorded 63 points, with 25 points and 38 assists. Blake showed that he was an important piece for Toronto's future.

    However, at the time, the Leafs were concerned about fixing their issues in net and traded for Anaheim Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, sending Blake, as well as goalie Vesa Toskala, to Anaheim.

    In his first full season with the Ducks last year, Blake's numbers were almost cut in half as he was only able to register 32 points.

    The 38-year-old was hoping to turn it around this season but was only able to play in two games before his arm was severely cut by San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns' skate.

    The injury had kept Blake out of the lineup until the beginning of 2012, and he has returned to the Ducks' lineup.

    It will be interesting to see how Blake returns from this severe injury, as coach Bruce Boudreau referred to his rehab as "almost like a training camp revisited for him type of thing."

    As a player ages, it's tougher and tougher to rehab from injuries and get back to an NHL-ready state.

    Blake is on the wrong side of 35 years of age, and if the Ducks chose not to re-sign him, he would most likely receive a short-term contract and get less than the $4 million he earns with his current contract.

Sean Avery

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    After putting together back-to-back impressive seasons from 2006 to 2008 with both the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers, center Sean Avery received a 4-year, $15.5 million contract from the Dallas Stars.

    Avery was slowly starting to show that he could be an offensive weapon on the ice as well as draw penalties as a team's agitator.

    However, while with the Stars, Avery could not keep his agitator mentality off the ice, as he got himself suspended for comments made about then Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf dating his ex-girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert.

    Avery was forced to undergo anger management and was later waived by the Stars.

    The Rangers would later re-acquire Avery while on waivers in hopes of the 31-year-old returning to his old form.

    However, since being picked up by the Rangers, Avery's offensive production has slipped.

    Last season, Avery was only able to register three goals and 21 assists in 76 games.

    Avery's struggles would continue this year, as he was unable to register a goal during the preseason and was placed on waivers in early October.

    Avery cleared waivers and spent some time with the Rangers' AHL-affiliate Connecticut Whale before being called up on Halloween.

    In 15 games, Avery has only contributed three goals and zero assists. Before the start of the new year, Avery was once again placed on waivers after being a healthy scratch for nine games.

    After clearing waivers, he was sent again to Connecticut and is considering playing in Russia's KHL.

    If he decides to stay in the United States after his contract is up this summer, he will undoubtedly receive a huge pay cut from the close to $4 million he was making this year.

Cristobal Huet

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    Believe it or not, goalie Cristobal Huet is still considered a part of the Chicago Blackhawks organization.

    The last time we saw Huet in the NHL, he was backing up Antti Niemi as the Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup.

    Huet was signed in 2008 by the Hawks to a 4-year, $22.5 million dollar contract, putting him as the fifth highest-paid player whose contracts expires at the end of the season.

    The French-born goaltender was originally signed to back up Nikolai Khabibulin in 2008 but found himself jumping back and forth as the team's starter throughout the entire season.

    The following season, Huet was named the team's undisputed No. 1 goalie, the first time in his career.

    However, after months of streaky play, the Blackhawks put Huet on the bench in favor of Niemi, and the rest is history as the Hawks won their first cup since 1961.

    Before the start of the next season, Huet was loaned to HC Fribourg-Gotteron SA of the Swiss National League A so that the Blackhawks could relieve their salary cap issues.

    After two years in Switzerland, Huet's contract is finally coming to an end, and it is unknown if he has any plans of returning to the states.

    There is no way he will get the type of money he's getting from his current contract, so there is really nothing drawing his attention back to the NHL.

Martin Brodeur

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    Goaltender Martin Brodeur has spent his entire career with the New Jersey Devils after the team drafted him in the first round of the 1990 NHL draft.

    In his long 18-year career, Brodeur has been one of, if not the best goalie in NHL history. He has helped the Devils win three Stanley Cups and has been to the playoffs every year except for two.

    In 2009, Brodeur became the all-time leader in regular season wins when he surpassed great Patrick Roy. Before his season that year was cut short because of a torn distal biceps tendon, Brodeur had put together 11 straight seasons of posting 35-plus wins.

    Brodeur has no doubt already reserved his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but there is still question as to how much longer he will continue to stand between the pipes in the NHL.

    The 39-year-old struggled last season, only registering 23 wins in 54 starts.

    So far this season, Brodeur is currently 12-10-1 but has the some of the worst numbers in his career.

    His goals against average is the closest to three goals a game it has ever been, at 2.91, and his save percentage is under .9 for the first time ever at .894.

    Brodeur currently makes $5.2 million, and with the uncertainty of his future in the NHL, he could sign a short-term contract in the offseason worth less money.

Alexander Semin

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    In his six-year career in the NHL, Washington Capitals winger Alexander Semin has put up some impressive numbers.

    He had two seasons in 2006-07 and 2008-09 in which he had 70-plus-point seasons and had a career-high 84 points the following season.

    After the career year, the Capitals and Semin could not come to terms on a long-term contract and signed him to a one-year extension worth $6 million.

    Due to the short-term extension, Semin found himself in the middle of several trade rumors last season.

    Semin struggled last year, as his point total dropped 30 points and he was unable to score more than 30 goals.

    The 27-year-old was one of the most talked about free agents heading into the offseason.

    However, the Caps would once again sign Semin to a one-year extension, this time worth $6.7 million, making him the highest paid free agent this offseason.

    This year, Semin has once again found himself among trade speculation, as new rumors emerge each week about the Russian being traded by the Caps.

    Semin's struggles from last season have carried over into this year, as he has only scored 10 goals in 35 games and is on pace to have the worst season in his career.

    A lot of teams looking for upgrades at the winger position feel that a change of scenery could do the trick in returning Semin to his old self.

    Whether he is traded or not, Semin will be the highest paid free agent at the end of the season with an annual cap hit of $6.7 million.

    If Semin cannot turn things around, he could be in store for a much deserved pay cut.