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Ranking the NHL's 10 Most Overpaid Players

Lyle RichardsonFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2014

Ranking the NHL's 10 Most Overpaid Players

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    The imposition of a salary cap was considered a measure for NHL teams to keep both payroll and individual player salaries under control.

    However, it's done nothing to prevent some players from being paid far more than they're worth.

    It's easy to blame a player for being greedy, but it's his agent who negotiates with team management. Ultimately, management decides how much and for how long it'll pay a player. That's led to more than a few players being overpaid for their services.

    The 10 players on this list stand out among the NHL's most overpaid. Performance, contract length, average annual salary and actual per-season salary factored into this ranking.

10. Andrew MacDonald, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Current contract: Six years, $30 million. $5 million average annual salary.

    2013-14 statistics: 82 games played, four goals, 24 assists, 28 points.

    Why he's overpaid: Having acquired MacDonald from the New York Islanders in a late-season trade, the Flyers didn't want to lose him to unrestricted free agency this summer.

    At the time the deal was announced, NBC Sports' Mike Halford reported MacDonald had solid defensive numbers with the Islanders and Flyers. However, Broad Street Hockey blogger Kevin Christmann pointed out MacDonald seems to struggle in the neutral zone, which explains why he ends up blocking more shots in his end.

    MacDonald's new contract is a significant raise over the $550,000 per season he made on his previous deal. While MacDonald's a good defenseman, he didn't do anything worthy of a contract paying him more than more skilled blueliners like New York Ranger Ryan McDonagh ($4.7 million AAV) and San Jose's Marc-Edouard Vlasic ($4.25 million AAV).

9. David Clarkson, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Current contract: Seven years, $36.75 million. $5.25 million average annual salary.

    2013-14 statistics: 60 games played, 5 goals, 6 assists, 11 points.

    Why he's overpaid: Apart from one 30-goal season, the 30-year-old Clarkson never tallied more than 20 goals per season in his NHL career. As The Globe and Mail's James Mirtle noted last summer, power forwards like Clarkson decline after age 30 more quickly than skill forwards.

    That makes him unlikely to reach 30 goals again.

    In the fourth and fifth years of Clarkson's contract, he'll be paid $7 million per season in actual salary. At a time when Clarkson's performance could significantly decline, he will be paid in real dollars like a superstar in his prime.

    Even if the Leafs try to buy out Clarkson, The Hockey News' Ken Campbell observed it would be complicated and expensive, as most of the winger's salary comes from signing bonuses.

8. Dave Bolland, Florida Panthers

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    Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Current contract: Five years, $27.5 million. $5.5 million annual average salary.

    2013-14 statistics: 23 games played, eight goals, 12 points.

    Why he's overpaid: He's a third-line center being paid like a top-six talent. His career-best season (47 points) came in 2008-09.

    Panthers general manager Dale Tallon, who drafted Bolland when he was GM of the Blackhawks, pointed out the 28-year-old's leadership, toughness and all-around skills to reporters as reasons for the deal. He also noted Bolland's been a champion in every league he's played in, including two Stanley Cup championships in Chicago.

    The Panthers are paying a lot for his supposed intangibles. During Bolland's final season with the powerhouse Blackhawks, the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc reported he was at his best as a third-line center.

    While Bolland showed some promise as a second-line center in his short stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs, a severed ankle tendon sidelined him most of last season. If that should hamper his performance going forward, it will make this deal worse than it already is.

7. Brooks Orpik, Washington Capitals

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Current contract: Five years, $27.5 million. $5.5 million annual average salary.

    2013-14 statistics: 72 games played, two goals, 11 assists, 13 points.

    Why he's overpaid: The Capitals desperately wanted a veteran, shutdown defenseman. The problem, however, is Orpik turns 34 in September and physical blueliners like him tend to wear down quickly as they reach their mid-30s.

    The Washington Post's Neil Greenberg cited that fact, along with Orpik's injury history and declining foot speed, in a column panning the signing.

    At this stage in his career, Orpik simply isn't worth $5.5 million per seasonand certainly not on a contract taking him up to age 38. As his performance declines, expect the Capitals' front office to face further criticism for this deal.

6. Mike Richards, Los Angeles Kings

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Current contract: 12 years, $69 million. $5.75 million annual average salary.

    2013-14 statistics: 82 games played, 11 goals, 30 assists, 41 points.

    Why he's overpaid: In recent years, Richards' performance has steadily declined. His career-best 80-point season came in 2008-09 and he last cracked the 60-point mark during his final season with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010-11.

    The decline was noticeable during the 2014 playoffs, when he was reduced to fourth-line duty. The Kings didn't pay Richards $7.6 million in actual salary last season for that kind of performance.

    The Los Angeles Times' Lisa Dillman reported last month that Kings general manager Dean Lombardi believes the 29-year-old center's decline was largely due to his offseason training. If Richards, who will earn $7 million in actual salary in 2014-15, fails to improve, the Kings could have the most expensive fourth-line center in the league.

5. Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes

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    Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images

    Current contract: Five years, $35 million. $7 million annual average salary.

    2013-14 statistics: 65 games played, 22 goals, 20 assists, 42 points.

    Why he's overpaid: The Hurricanes inked him to his current contract based on his 44 points in as many games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

    Unfortunately, his numbers last season were well off that pace. The News & Observer's Chip Alexander reported last January that then-Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford criticized Semin for his lack of production.

    It could get even worse for the Hurricanes. Semin turns 31 in March and his best season (84 points in 2009-10) is well behind him. The numbers he posted in 2013-14 could become the norm over the remainder of his contract. $7 million per season is a lot to pay a potential 40-point winger.

4. Rick Nash, New York Rangers

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Current contract: Eight years, $62.4 million. $7.8 million average annual salary.

    2013-14 statistics: 65 games played, 26 goals, 13 assists, 39 points.

    Why he's overpaid: Since signing his current deal back in July 2009 as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Nash's production has declined. It's been five years since he tallied 40 goals and over 70 points in a single season.

    Nash's playoff performance with the Rangers over the last two years hasn't been much better, scoring only four goals and 15 points in 37 postseason games.

    Though injuries hampered his efforts last season, his production since 2009 has not been what's expected from someone being paid as an elite power forward. Nash is also 30 and his performance could decline over the remaining four years of his contract.

    However, he'll be paid more in actual salary. It increases to $7.9 million for 2014-15 and 2015-16, $8 million in 2016-17 and $8.2 million in 2017-18, the final year of his contract.

3 and 2. Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

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    Andy Devlin/Getty Images

    Current contracts: Daniel and Henrik have identical four-year, $28 million contracts. $7 million average annual salaries.

    2013-14 statistics: Daniel scored 16 goals and 47 points in 73 games. Henrik tallied 11 goals and 50 points in 70 games.

    Why they're overpaid: Former Canucks general manager Mike Gillis didn't want to lose his two best forwards to free agency this summer. Unfortunately, he overpaid to retain them.

    While the twins are on shorter deals for less overall salary than their previous contracts (matching five-year, $30.5 million deals), they're earning more per season ($7 million each) than under their former deals ($6.1 million each).

    That would be fine if the pair were still among the NHL's leading scorers, as it was in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Unfortunately, in recent years the Sedins' numbers have significantly declined. The twins turn 34 in September and their best years are now behind them.

    The generosity of the former Canucks GM toward two fading stars could prove costly in the long run.

1. Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images

    Current contract: 14 years, $110 million. $7.86 million average annual salary.

    2013-14 statistics: 79 games played, 23 goals, 33 assists, 56 points.

    Why he's overpaid: In 2012, the Predators matched a ridiculously expensive offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers to retain Weber. While he ranks among the NHL's elite defensemen, he's yet to garner individual awards or make the Predators a Cup contender.

    Weber shouldn't earn more in actual salary ($14 million) than true superstars like Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Washington's Alexander Ovechkin and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos.

    Weber's deal becomes more costly for the budget-conscious Predators as his performance declines over time. While he'll be paid only $6 million in actual salary over the final four years of the contract, the cap hit remains unchanged.

    If he retires during those years, the Predators will be hit with expensive cap-advantage recapture penalties. If they trade him, the gaining team would have to split part of those penalties with the Predators.

     

    Unless otherwise indicated, all statistics via NHL.com. All salary and contract information via CapGeek.com.

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