Up until 2005, NHL teams could sign players to whatever financial terms they desired. Teams such as the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings were allowed to throw money at the best players, trading away draft picks and prospects for names like Brett Hull and Dominik Hasek.
The salary cap changed all of that.
Now all the teams have a limit to how much they can spend, thus making each and every deal made an impactful one. Overpay a handful of players by a half-million, and suddenly, you're stuck scrounging for a second-line center.
There has been no shortage of both good and bad deals since the cap was implemented in '05. Here are the best and worst contracts from each free-agency period since then.