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Bang for Your Buck: 10 Least Expensive Stars in the NHL

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2011

Bang for Your Buck: 10 Least Expensive Stars in the NHL

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Some players make the big dollars.

    Whether they deserve it or not, players can make five, eight or even $12 million a year and be a financial burden to their teams.

    Other players exceed their small contacts and become the best in the league while making scrap for cash.

    These players are the types of players that can help a team win a championship in more than one way.

    With their play and lack of salary, a team can surround the cheap player with more expensive veterans and try to contend.

    These are the players giving the most bang for their buck.

    Enjoy!

10. Luca Sbisa, D, Anaheim Ducks

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2010-11 Cap Hit: $875,000

    After coming to Anaheim from Philadelphia in the Chris Pronger trade, Sbisa has developed into a solid defender.

    Sbisa has taken on the roll of being a physical defender and is the leading hitter of all the defenders on the Ducks.

    Sbisa is in the last year of his entry-level contract and will be a hot commodity this offseason as well as a steal this season.

9. Darren Helm, F, Detroit Red Wings

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    2010-11 Cap Hit: $912,500

    The Red Wings have had a lot of injuries this season and they needed the help of their young players to make it through.

    Darren Helm has been good in the absence of some of Detroit’s finest players.

    Helm is versatile and willing to play in any situation for the Wings and has helped keep the Red Wings in a lot of games.

    Imagine if they hadn’t shipped Leino to Philadelphia.

8. Mark Giordano, D, Calgary Flames

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    2010-11 Cap Hit: $891,667

    Mark Giordano has been great for the Calgary Flames this year on defense.

    The Flames have been weak this year, but Giordano has been a bright spot.

    He is set to make a lot more money next year because of an extension he signed but for the rest of this year he is a steal.

    Giordano is great all-around.  He has 95 hits, 127 blocked shots and 25 points while being one of the most consistent defenders on the Flames.

    

7. Marc Methot, D, Columbus Blue Jackets

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    John Grieshop/Getty Images

    2010-11 Cap Hit: $1,012,500

    Columbus has been solid this year and Marc Methot has been the best defender on the team.

    Methot is not well known. but his contributions may be the key for Columbus Blue Jackets to get into the playoffs and make some noise.

    One of the most versatile defenders on the Blue Jackets, Methot is an inexpensive weapon that is going to be a solid player for years.

6. Corey Crawford, G, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2010-11 Cap Hit: $800,000

    With the departure of Stanley Cup champion goaltender Antti Niemi, the Blackhawks went on a search for their new netminder.

    Chicago decided that veteran goalie Marty Turco would be the answer for this season.

    Nope.

    Corey Crawford has stepped in for Turco and taken the number one job by force. He was 16 wins, had a save percentage of .919 and a goals against average of 2.19.

5. Ville Leino, F, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    2010-11 Cap Hit: $800,000

    After coming to Philadelphia in a trade with Detroit, Ville Leino has really come onto his own with the Flyers.

    In 50 games, Leino has 36 points and is a plus-20 on the season.

    Leino has been part of one of the most potent lines in the NHL this season, composed of Daniel Briere, Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino.  The trio has helped catapult the Flyers to the top of the leagues standings.

4. Keith Yandle, D, Phoenix Coyotes

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2010-11 Cap Hit: $1,200,000

    Keith Yandle may be the most underrated defender in the NHL.

    Not only does he lead the league in points for a defenseman with 44 points in 51 games, but he is one of the best two-way defenders in the league.

    He helps make up a strong defensive group in Phoenix that could make a real wave if the team makes it into the playoffs.

3. Logan Couture, F, San Jose Sharks

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2010-11 Cap Hit: $1,241,667

    The San Jose Sharks should thank their lucky stars they can pay Couture this for awhile before the big contract is signed.

    Logan Couture is second in rookie scoring and is leading the rookies with 22 goals.  He also ranks 11th in the league in goals.

    The Sharks offense hasn’t been playing well but Couture may be the player that keeps the Sharks alive until Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley get hot.

2. Jonathan Quick, G, Los Angeles Kings

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2010-11 Cap Hit: $1,800,000

    The Los Angeles Kings haven’t been as good as advertised, but it’s not because of Jonathan Quick.

    Quick has become one of the best goaltenders in the league this season and has kept the Kings in contention during games they played terrible.

    The key for a long playoff run will be an improved defense and better scoring, but with a stat line like Quick’s, they could win on his back alone.

    Jonathan Quick is seventh in the league with 22 wins and third in the league in both goals against average (2.15) and shutouts (five).

1. Claude Giroux, F, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    2010-11 Cap Hit: $821,666

    Claude Giroux has been great for the Flyers this season and his cheap paycheck has kept the Flyers in the running during trade time.

    The Flyers have used him as a second- and first-line player and he has done tremendously well.

    Giroux has 47 points through 50 games and is a huge part of the success of the Flyers this season.

    He will get a big raise next year, but for the rest of this season, he will remain a cheap star.

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