NHL Free Agency: The 15 Most Ridiculous Contracts of All-Time

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2012

NHL Free Agency: The 15 Most Ridiculous Contracts of All-Time

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    Free agency gives players a chance to hit it big once their previous contract expires.

    While many of the issues surrounding free agency are at the root of the current lockout, teams know they can get significantly better or worse depending on the players they bring on board through free agency.

    While teams must still draft well and develop young talent in the minor leagues, a solid free-agent signing or two can help a good team turn into a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

    Conversely, a poor signing can turn a playoff team into an also-ran.

    Here's our look at the 15 most ridiculous free-agent signings.

    (Contract details are courtesy of CapGeek.com.)

Scott Gomez, New York Rangers

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    Scott Gomez ranks with the worst free-agent signings in the history of the NHL.

    Perhaps all of professional sports.

    He signed a seven-year, $51.5 million contract prior to the start of the 2007-08 season with the New York Rangers.

    He did not bring much return for the investment with the Rangers, and they managed to trade him to the Montreal Canadiens prior to the 2009-10 season.

    In his three years with the Habs, Gomez has scored 21 goals. That includes last year's minuscule total of two goals.

    He has simply been a disastrous player since getting the big money.

Tomas Kaberle, Carolina Hurricanes

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    After the Boston Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup, they decided that they did not need to keep defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

    They did not make him a contract offer, and he signed a three-year, $12.75 million deal with the Carolina Hurricanes.

    It didn't take long for the Hurricanes to see that Kaberle was not going to work out for them. They traded Kaberle to the Canadiens last December.

    Kaberle is a butter-soft player whose reputation exceeds his talent.

    The Canadiens are stuck with another painful contract.

Dennis Wideman, Calgary Flames

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    Dennis Wideman has played for the Blues, Bruins, Panthers and Capitals.

    At the conclusion of the 2011-12 season, the Capitals traded the journeyman defenseman to the Calgary Flames.

    The Flames need defensive help, and Wideman has the ability to carry and shoot the puck. As a defensive defenseman, his work is often deficient.

    After trading for Wideman, the Flames signed him to a five-year, $26.3 million contract.

    Based on his past results, the Flames will be quite disappointed with the return they get on their investment.

Chris Drury, New York Rangers

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    The Rangers signed Chris Drury to a five-year, $35.5 million contract prior to the 2007-08 season because they thought they were getting a player who was still a superstar.

    In fact, they were getting a player who was at the end of his career. They got two decent years out of Drury prior to two awful seasons in which he showed he had nothing left in the tank.

    Drury retired at the end of the 2010-11 season, but signing him turned out to be a move that set back the Rangers' overall progress.

Sean Avery, Dallas Stars

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    What were the Dallas Stars thinking when they signed Sean Avery to a four-year, $15.5 million contract prior to the 2008-09 season?

    If they thought they were signing the most annoying hockey player in the world, they were right.

    If they thought they were getting a productive hockey player who could help them win, they were incredibly wrong.

    The Stars waived Avery before the end of his first year in Dallas.

    Much to the consternation of head coach John Tortorella, the Rangers picked him up. He played with the Rangers through the middle of last season. At that point, he was no longer deemed necessary, and the team released him.

Cristobal Huet, Chicago Blackhawks

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    The Chicago Blackhawks signed goalie Cristobal Huet to a four-year, $22.4 million contract in 2008-09 because they thought he could be a dominant puck stopper who could lead them to the Stanley Cup.

    The Blackhawks did win the Stanley Cup in the 2009-10 playoffs, but Huet had little to do with it. Head coach Joel Quenneville came to the conclusion before those playoffs that Huet was not dependable, and he turned the goaltending chores over to Antti Niemi.

    Huet has not played in the NHL since the '09-10 season.

Alexei Kovalev, Ottawa Senators

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    When it comes to flat-out talent at playing the game of hockey, few players have ever been gifted like Alexei Kovalev.

    He has scored a slew of highlight-film goals (above) that can take the breath away of the most jaded scouts.

    However, Kovalev's work ethic is not at a similar level to his talent.

    The Senators signed Kovalev to a two-year, $10 million deal in 2009 because they thought they were getting a star.

    They were vastly disappointed with his up-and-down efforts.

Robert Holik, New York Rangers

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    Bobby Holik had been a solid all-around player for the New Jersey Devils, and he regularly tormented the New York Rangers when he played against his team's archrivals.

    However, when the Rangers signed Holik to a five-year, $45 million deal in 2002, they were not getting the same player who had done so much damage to them when he wore a Devils uniform.

    He scored 41 goals in two seasons with the Rangers before he was released.

Brian Campbell, Chicago Blackhawks

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    The Blackhawks thought they were getting a highly-skilled, puck-moving defenseman when they signed Brian Campbell to an eight-year, $56 million deal prior to the 2008-09 season.

    However, they did not know they were getting a defenseman who eschewed contact and played one of the softest games in the league.

    They overpaid badly for him, and they traded him to Florida in 2011.

Sheldon Souray, Edmonton Oilers

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    The Edmonton Oilers signed hard-shooting defenseman Sheldon Souray to a five-year, $27 million deal prior to the 2007-08 season.

    However, Souray had a series of debilitating injuries, and the Oilers were a team that was about to bottom out.

    It was a bad fit, and he was eventually released and signed by the Dallas Stars.

Wade Redden, New York Rangers

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    Wade Redden had been a solid NHL defenseman with the Ottawa Senators for 11 seasons when he signed a six-year, $39 million deal with the New York Rangers prior to the 2008-09 season.

    The signing was horrific for the Rangers. He played two years with them and was a shell of what he had been with the Senators. They eventually sent him to the minor leagues, and he has not played an NHL game since the 2009-10 season.

James Wisniewski, Columbus Blue Jackets

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    James Wisniewski parlayed one good NHL season into a huge contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    Wisniewski was traded by the Montreal Canadiens to the Blue Jackets at the end of the 2010-11 season, and he quickly signed a six-year, $33 million deal with his new employers.

    During the 2010-11 season, Wisniewski scored 10 goals and added 41 assists while playing for the New York Islanders and Canadiens. That's the only notable season he has enjoyed in his career.

    Wisniewski had a pedestrian 27-point season in 2011-12 with the Jackets. It seems likely that his employers overpaid quite a bit to sign him.

Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens

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    Andrei Markov has been a fair defenseman with the Montreal Canadiens throughout his career. However, he was on the injured list for all but seven games in the 2010-11 season.

    With his contract expired, the Canadiens re-signed him to a three-year, $17.25 million deal. In the first year of that deal, Markov played 13 games and had three assists.

    They appear to be stuck with another painful deal.

Nikolai Khabibulin, Edmonton Oilers

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    Nikolai Khabibulin has had his moments in the NHL, most notably backstopping the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004.

    However, when the Edmonton Oilers signed Khabibulin to a four-year, $15 million deal prior to the 2009-10 season, it was a mistake. Khabibulin wanted to play with another Stanley Cup contending team. Instead, he got a young team that made too many mistakes to win consistently.

    His performance was poor in his first two years, and while it was somewhat better in 2011-12, he has been a disappointment in Edmonton.

Mike Komisarek, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Mike Komisarek was a hard-hitting and pugnacious defenseman during the majority of his six seasons with the Montreal Canadiens.

    However, he has not brought the same level of competitiveness to the Toronto Maple Leafs since signing a five-year, $18 million deal prior to the 2009-10 season.

    Perhaps he has taken too many beatings at the hands of Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins (above). Komisarek has been a below-average player during his run with the underachieving Leafs.