NHL Free Agent Signings 2012: Recapping the Worst Deals Thus Far
NHL free agency is an exciting time for fans to see their teams get better for next season, but several teams this summer, such as the Calgary Flames, have given out poor contracts that will hurt them moving forward.
Being aggressive in free agency is a fantastic strategy, but overpaying for players can be a costly mistake.
Let's look at the four worst signings of free agency thus far.
Calgary Flames: Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman
Many Calgary Flames fans want the team to start rebuilding, but the contracts that general manager Jay Feaster has given out in free agency thus far prove the franchise isn't ready to head in that direction yet.
Which contract is the worst of free agency thus far?
The Flames signed center Jiri Hudler to a four-year, $16 million contract on Monday, which was a terrible move. Hudler has only scored more than 15 goals in a season twice in his five years as an NHL player. He's also scored more than 50 points in a season just once.
The Flames are now the second closest team to the salary cap, per Capgeek, and have several players with contracts that are very unattractive on the trade market if they struggle during the season.
The Hudler and Dennis Wideman (five years, $26.25 million) contracts are the worst ones given out since the end of the season.
Wideman is good offensively but is a major liability on defense and cannot play important minutes in playoff games. Paying someone like that over $5 million per season is insane.
Vancouver Canucks: Jason Garrison
With the departures of defenemen Sami Salo and Aaron Rome, the Vancouver Canucks needed to sign a top four blueliner in free agency, and they did so by overpaying for Jason Garrison.
Garrison, 27, had a career year last season with the Florida Panthers, and it will be fascinating to watch if he can keep at that pace or even improve. The Canucks signed him to a six-year, $27.6 million contract with a $4.6 million salary cap hit. His contract makes Vancouver the third closest team to the cap.
That's a big contract for someone who has just one season where he scored more than 18 points. Garrison has also played in only 190 career NHL games.
Canucks fans hope that Garrison is coming into his prime and not someone who had a one good year knowing he was set to hit free agency. Vancouver also hasn't been very successful acquiring former Panthers players recently.
Now Garrison must show he is capable of excelling in a market with fans desperate for a Stanley Cup title.
Nashville Predators: Paul Gaustad
The Predators traded a first-round pick in the 2012 NHL draft to the Buffalo Sabres for center Paul Gaustad last season, then signed him to a four-year, $13 million contract last weekend. They have now overpaid to acquire him and keep him.
Gaustad is a good third/fourth-line player but not someone who is worth close to $3.5 million per season, especially on a team that has had one 30-plus goal scorer in the last three years.
Gaustad scored 21 points last season (17 with Buffalo, four with Nashville), which was 10 less than his 2010-11 scoring output. In the playoffs this year, he had just two points in two games. His defensive abilities are also limited.
While Gaustad will give some size and faceoff ability to the Predators' forward group, he is definitely overpaid for someone in his role.
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