Kovalchuk Controversy: 10 Contracts Teams Would Want Voided
There are yearly trends for what teams need, and many times they get into bidding wars with other teams for that player’s services. Understandably, this often leads to inflated contracts worth way more than the player’s actual value.
Usually, this intensity leads to mistakes that haunt the team for years to come by giving them a contract that they aren’t necessarily prepared to handle.
Since we are in the salary cap era, these mistakes have grown increasingly costly and can constrict a team financially for years before they are finally set free of the diastrous deal.
This year, there are many of these contracts in effect, but here are the ten worst contracts in the NHL, ones I’m sure teams and management alike wouldn’t mind voided—In no particular order.
Daniel Briere: Philadelphia Flyers
Apparently Daniel Briere is $6.5 million-a-year good.
At least the Philadelphia Flyers seemed to think so. Well, they did when they signed him to a 8-year, $52 million deal a few years back.
While Briere was a large factor in the Flyers' comeback series win against the Boston Bruins in this year’s playoffs, his regular season has been marked my mediocrity the past few years—$6.5 million a year requires more than mediocrity.
After netting 95 points in 2006 (with Buffalo) and 72 points in 2007, it looked like a safe bet to lock him up for good money, but the following season he played just 29 games due to injury—but still recorded 25 points.
In 2009 he only notched 26 goals and 27 assists for a mere 53 points by normal Danny Briere standards, however we aren’t prepared to call this deal a bust.
Give him one more year to return to form before pushing him out the door, for in the playoffs he showed glimpses of the Briere 2006, and could just as well return to glory in 2010.
But I bet given the opportunity the Flyers wouldn’t mind renegotiating his deal for a bit smaller cap hit.
Wade Redden: New York Rangers
I think everyone but Glen Sather knew this was a horrible move from the get-go, signing Wade Redden to a 6-year, $39 million deal.
It’s not that Redden doesn’t have the ability to live up to the standards the contract bestowed upon him, it’s that he simply doesn’t have the desire to.
He has always been known as a player that just doesn’t have the heart and love for the game that many of today’s NHLers are known for, and it’s sad that you can’t motivate yourself to play a game so many would kill for, especially when you’re carrying a $39 million contract.
Over the past two seasons with the Rangers, Redden has posted 26, and 14 points respectively, and is a total of plus-3 in those two seasons. Now those numbers aren’t staggering, but they aren't acceptable when you’re making $6.5 million annually—only $1 million less than Zdeno Chara, and $400,000 more than the Sedin twins. (One of which won the Hart Trophy this year)
With four years left on his current contract, there is a lot of talk about Redden being demoted and burying his hefty contract alongside his NHL career down in the AHL, becoming nothing more than an expensive prospect that the owners must try to stomach.
Whether or not management is willing to bite the bullet on that, we’ve yet to see, but you can bet that this is one contract the Rangers wouldn’t mind being voided.
Rick DiPietro: New York Islanders
I’m not sure what the Islanders were thinking when they locked up Rick DiPietro for 15 years at a total of $67.5 million.
What makes this contract even worse is that the Boston University product has played a total of 13 games the past two years due to injury.
It seems to be the story of his career as he can’t find a way to stay off the injured reserve list, but luckily for the Isles, being on the LTIR keeps his salary from hitting the books.
I’m sure given a second chance knowing what they know now, the Isles would not take the same path walked, and however, they may just choose a shorter term for less money.
If DiPietro is ever to return to health and to form, he still has the potential to be the franchise goalie that he was for a short time on Long Island, but those years just seem to be further and further away with each passing season.
Scott Gomez: Montreal Canadians
Since being acquired from the New York Rangers back in 2009, Scott Gomez has played a full season with the Montreal Canadians in which he notched 12 goals and 47 assists for 59 points—pretty good for a first or second line player on most teams.
Oh, but did I mention he’s making $7.35 million this year?
59 points is good, but it’s nowhere near $7.35 million good. His current salary has him almost equal to that of Zdeno Chara, and higher than Jarome Iginla, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Anze Kopitar just to name a few.
To make matters a bit worse for the already mildly cap-troubled Canadians, Gomez still has four years remaining on a contract that is among the most unmovable in the League.
You can expect that management is looking for more of a season like the 2005-2006 campaign with the Devils when he put up a career-high 84 points.
Paying a player that kind of money coming off a 58-point season, and when he has only broken the 80-point plateau once in his career, puts this deal among the worst in recent memory.
You can bet the Canadians would like a shot at restructuring this deal, but no front-loading Mr. Gauthier!
Brian Campbell: Chicago Blackhawks
Brian Campbell is the highest-paid player on the Blackhawks, making $7.14 million a year—and the Hawks wonder why they have cap trouble. Oh, and he’s tied up until the 2013-2014 season.
In their defense, there are offseason trends when there is a high need for certain positions, and the 2008 offseason was the year of the defenseman.
I remember watching the free agent tracker and hearing about all the different teams interested in Campbell and when I saw what the Hawks paid for him I thought, “Wow, they got him at a good price.”
Guess I didn’t really understand the cap hit too well back then, because they grossly overpaid for a mediocre offensive-defenseman.
Although he put up 52 points two years back, and notched 38 last season—numbers that are really good for a defenseman—he is certainly not the most valuable piece of the Blackhawk Puzzle that Stan Bowman had pieced together. And on top of that, he’s not as good on the defensive side of the puck, even though his plus minus might hint otherwise.
The fact of the matter is the Blackhawks are/were stacked, and they had one of the most high-powered run and gun offenses in the NHL, something that could easily skew say a player’s plus/minus?
The Blackhawks probably don’t want Brian Campbell gone, because let’s face it, he is a great puck-moving defenseman, and one that many teams covet because they lack, but I’m sure Bowman and the Hawks would like to rework his salary just a couple million dollars.
Shawn Horcoff: Edmonton Oilers
Shawn Horcoff isn’t known as a prolific scorer in the NHL, and he flies under the radar because of it.
However, his salary is anything but under the radar.
Horcoff is currently the highest-paid player on the Edmonton roster after signing a 6-year, $33 million deal that locks him up until the 2013-2014 campaign.
That comes out to an annual cap hit of $5.5 million, for a forward who only managed to put up 36 points last season while being a brutal minus-29.
Before this season he was pretty much a perennial 50-point player, once notching 73 in 05-06, but $5.5 million just doesn’t seem to be justified.
Luckily for Edmonton they have the cap space to accommodate such an inflated salary at the moment, especially with all the young talent coming in—Hall, Eberle, and Paarjarvi-Svensson to name a few. But that means in a couple of years such high-potential players will likely be up for big raises, and Horcoff’s contract could then become a much bigger problem for the Oil.
For now though, I think they are too focused on Taylor Hall to even notice.
Chris Drury: New York Rangers
The Rangers aren’t doing too well on this list, which says something about Glen Sather.
Chris Drury has always been a solid two-way hockey player, but lately his offensive game has seemed to of gone array, and his 5-year, $35.25 million contract no longer seems justified.Drury is the second highest paid player on the Rangers, making $7.05 million a year behind only Marian Gaborik.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, last season Drury only recorded 32 points, dropping off from a 58, and 56 point seasons the two years prior.
He remains a great player on the defensive side of the puck, but you don’t make $7 million a season for strictly defense. Drury was paid for his offensive upside as well, unfortunately as of late it has shown no sign of returning.
It has become one of those cap-constricting, unmovable contracts signings that comes back to haunt a team for many years, one that Ranger fans are still having nightmares about.
Tim Thomas: Boston Bruins
This contract will go down as one of Peter Chiarelli’s worst decisions as the Boston Bruins GM.
Two seasons ago he gave Thomas a 4-year, $20 million contract, which doesn’t sound bad for a Vezina Trophy winner. But when taking a more in-depth look, it proves to be nothing more than a waste of $5 million a year.
Giving a four-year deal worth that much to a player over 35—obviously having the label of a 35+ contract— is really not smart in the first place, because in the case that he may retire, the B’s will be stuck with his salary on the books.
They also have been talking about the future of the organization for many years, Tuukka Rask, who was very close to being NHL ready, so it’s hard to fathom why a four-year deal was in any way fitting to the team’s current needs.
Now Rask has distinguished himself as the clear number one goalie, boasting a league leading GAA and save percentage last season, and the B’s are left with nothing more than an aging $5 million back-up. And to top it all off he was given a no-movement clause to boot, meaning he can’t be demoted or trade without his consent.
For a team over the cap at this point, Tim Thomas and is $5 million salary are currently causing the problems some pretty major problems at this point.
Kimmo Timonen: Philadelphia Flyers
Yes, Kimmo Timonen is good, but as many others on the list, we must ask the question—is he $6 million-a-year good?
Timonen is currently carrying out a 6-year, $37.8 million deal with the Flyers that won’t expire until the end of the 2012-2013 NHL season.
The past three years Timonen has put up 44, 43, and 39 points respectively, which are good offensive numbers for a defenseman, but like Campbell, is handcuffing Flyers management financially.
Making $6.33 million a season, you better be a stud defenseman throughout the year, including the playoffs. But for anyone that watched the Bruins-Flyers series, Timonen seemed non-existent for pretty much its entirety.
Not knowing his salary, I gauged him at about a $2.3-$2.7 million a year type of guy based on his play. That’s why when I looked at what his actual yearly income is, I was appalled at the number I saw.
Maybe he was better in the regular season, but much like Joe Thornton he was a playoff no-show, and for that alone $6.3 million a year is too much.
Cristobal Huet: Chicago Blackhawks
Much like Tim Thomas, Cristobal Huet fell to backup status behind recently departed Antti Niemi, which made the $5.625 million a year that he made a complete waste.
He was signed for 4 years for $22.4 million, a number a bit high for a championship team that had to be completely ripped to shreds due to its salary cap woes.
The Hawks let go of Niemi and signed Marty Turco, who is thought to be the new number one goalie in the Windy City.
So what happens to Huet?
This year, demotion seems to be the hot topic, and it’s no different in the Blackhawks realm. There is a lot of talk that if they can’t trade him(good luck with that) then he will be demoted and his contract will be played out in the AHL.
The Blackhawks really need the cap relief, so their options are really only limited to that—this after a mass exodus of their role players earlier this offseason.