NHL Power Rankings: Keith Yandle and the League's 20 Cheapest Players

Liz BrownsteinContributor IFebruary 22, 2011

NHL Power Rankings: Keith Yandle and the League's 20 Cheapest Players

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    In many sports, there are the players who are notorious for being severely overpaid and there are the players who are seen as complete steals.  

    In the NHL, there is quite the list of young talent making the league's minimum salary.  But sometimes, there are players who are clearly being underpaid for how much they contribute to their teams. Some individuals, like Keith Yandle, are unsung heroes of their teams and their contracts deserve a few extra zeros. 

    Here are my 20 hockey players who are worth every penny of their contracts.

Honorable Mentions

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    Here are a few players who almost made the list but were not quite cheap enough or not quite talented enough.

    Vancouver's Raffi Torres has a cap hit of $1 million and 24 points this season, meaning he is costing the Canucks $41,667 dollars per point.  Granted Torres is very talented, but his numbers just don't add up the way the others do.

    Red Wings forward Darren Helm has a cap hit of $912,000, and with 24 points this season, it calculates out that he earns $38,000 per point he tallies.  Helm was a difficult individual to knock off the top 20, but the others are, in my opinion, slightly more deserving.

    So let's get going with this list!

20. Cody Franson

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    We are going to jumpstart our countdown with a defender, Cody Franson, sitting in the 20th spot on the NHL's cheapest players.  

    The Nashville defender has a cap hit of just $800,000, and with his 22 points this season, he makes his contract worth it.  Each point that Franson has tallied up until now has been worth $36,363 of his contract, and with a couple power-play goals and four power-play assists, Franson makes his presence known as a blueliner who works for every penny.

19. Troy Brouwer

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    Troy Brouwer is second on our list, landing the right winger in our 19th spot.  

    Brouwer is currently holding onto a $1.05 million cap hit for the Blackhawks. However, with 33 points this season already, that contract seems worth it.  Brouwer also has been an absolute force on the power play with seven power-play goals and five power-play assists.

    Seeing how much of an asset he is with the man advantage makes the $31,818 per point easier to handle.

18. Corey Crawford

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    The Chicago Blackhawks goaltender is next on our list at No. 18.  

    Corey Crawford is holding on to a $800,000 cap hit, but with his 20 wins, .921 save percentage and 2.17 goals against average, that rather small cap hit is worth it for the Blackhawks.  Each $40,000 increment in his cap hit corresponds to a win, and with that, Crawford deserves our 18th spot.

17. John Carlson

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    Young defender John Carlson is next on our list of players who look like they signed contracts that were on clearance.  

    Carlson has been a great pickup for the Washington Capitals, which tend to win games by simply scoring more goals than their opponents, rather than holding them to fewer goals.  Carlson has a cap hit of just $846,000, and with 24 points by a rookie defenseman, Washington is willing to pay him the approximately $35,250 that each point is worth.

16. Jeff Halpern

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    The first and only Montreal Canadien to grace our list is center Jeff Halpern.  

    Halpern has a $600,000 cap hit for the Habs. However, with 21 points tallied already, the $28,571 per point has been very beneficial to Montreal.  For a team that has been notoriously stingy on the defense, any sort of offense has been hugely helpful, and because of that, Halpern deserves his recognition as 16th on our list.

15. Eric Belanger

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    Phoenix's center Eric Belanger is next up on our list, coming in at 15th on our countdown.  The 6'0" forward is barely burdening the Coyotes with just a $750,000 cap hit, and with his 26 points so far in the season, Belanger has made every cent of his contract count.  

    The 'Yote's center man has cost Phoenix $28,846 per point, making the salary worth their while.

14. Tyler Ennis

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    Another rookie to make this list is Buffalo left wing Tyler Ennis.  

    As a rookie, Ennis isn't expected to have a big contract or big numbers. Much to the Sabre's liking, despite just a $875,000 cap hit, Ennis has been offensively productive, posting 33 points thus far. Ennis has, until this point, cost Buffalo just $26,515 per point scored.  

    As long as he keeps producing, young Tyler Ennis will be making his cap hit very worthy of his talents.

13. Blake Comeau

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    Blake Comeau of the New York Islanders is next up seeing as he costs the Isles just $22,857 per point he scores this year.  

    Comeau has a cap hit of just $800,000, and with his 35 points tallied this season, he deserves recognition on this list as being worth his price tag.  Comeau could be seen as deserving of a post higher than this 13th spot. However, with a minus-15 rating, he seems to mix pretty well at 13th.

12. Mark Giordano

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    When it comes to defenders, it was slightly more difficult to judge who gives his team the most bang for his buck, simply because their production is not easily translated into numbers.  

    Mark Giordano and his $892,000 cap hit sit 12th on our countdown, and with his 28 points, he costs Calgary just $31,857 per point.  On top of that, if you were to count how much he helps the blue-line roster for the Flames, he makes the contract worth Calgary's while.

11. Michael Grabner

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    Michael Grabner is another youngster to make our list, and with his salary cap hit of just $843,000, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.  

    Grabner has been a key part of the Islanders' offense, his 36 points rank him fourth on the team and his 25 goals rank him second.  

    Grabner only costs $23,416 per point this far in the season.  

10. Derek Stepan

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    Rookie forward, Derek Stepan, earns our 10th seat because of his small cap hit, just $875,000, coupled with impressive numbers, including 34 points and two power-play goals.  

    Stepan is one-half of the duo that has really stepped up when Gaborik, the Rangers' superstar, struggled to pull through.  Stepan has really been a breath of fresh air for New York, and because of his contributions, he deserves the spot as the 10th-best bargain player in the league.

9. Brendan Morrison

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    Our first name next to single-digits is Brendan Morrison of the Calgary Flames.  Morrison's $725,000 cap hit is nothing compared to his 39 points this season.  

    All in all, Morrison is absolutely benefiting from playing alongside Calgary's star, Jarome Iginla. However, by costing the Flames just $18,589 per point, he is worth every penny of his mini-sized contract.

8. Clarke MacArthur

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    Toronto's Clarke MacArthur is next on our list of bargains.  

    MacArthur's $1.1 million price tag might seem a bit high for the list. However, when you compare it to the rest of his numbers, including his 45 points, that number actually seems a bit low for him.  MacArthur is costing the Maple Leafs just $24,444 per point up until now, and with him leading the team in points, don't expect him to slow down.

7. Brian Boyle

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    Brian Boyle is tied for the team lead in goals with 19, and with his total of 29 points, he makes his $525,000 cap hit worth every dollar.  Boyle costs the Rangers $18,103 per point thus far in the season, and he has been a key component in the Rangers' success in the East, despite the major under production of Gaborik and the absence of Frolov due to injury.  

6. Jeff Skinner

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    Carolina's young star, Jeff Skinner, is next up, with one of the bigger contracts on the list with a cap hit of $1.4 million.  

    However, when you're talking about a rookie who is a hometown favorite and already made one appearance at the All-Star game, he is deserving of this spot.  Skinner is ranked second on the Hurricanes with 46 points, and each point costs Carolina just $29,166, and as the young forward continues to increase his point total, that price continues to decrease.

5. Jimmy Howard

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    Having the goalie that is leading the league in wins on a list for cheapest players might come as a bit of a shock, but when you see that Howard has a cap hit of just $717,000, there should not be a surprise anymore.

    Howard has a 2.76 goals against average, a .908 save percentage and 30 wins, making each W on Howard's belt cost the Detroit Red Wings just $23,900.  All in all, it might be surprising to see such a talented netminder on the list, but when he's paid such a small amount, he deserves a nod in the top five.

4. Sergei Kostitsyn

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    Sergei Kostitsyn of the Nashville Predators is next up on our countdown, and with a bargain of a cap hit of just $550,000, it shouldn't be a surprise that he is on this list.  

    The 23-year-old forward has tallied up 34 points this season, meaning he costs the Preds just $16,176 per point.  Sergei Kostitsyn also has an impressive four power-play goals and one short-handed goal, making him worthy of being ranked fourth on our list of bargain players.

3. P.A. Parenteau

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    P.A. Parenteau of the New York Islanders starts off our top three with a bang with the 27-year-old forward having a mere $600,000 cap hit and an impressive 38 points this season.  

    After a bit of number crunching, it comes out that Parenteau costs the Isles just $15,789 per point. Parenteau's 24 assists ties him for second on the team, and his 38 points puts him in third, making him a valuable asset with such a low price tag.

2. Keith Yandle

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    Phoenix defender Keith Yandle comes in at No. 2 and he is the highest ranked defender on our list, with a cap hit of $1.2 million and an impressive 51 points.  

    That point total ranks him first among the league's defenders, and those numbers break down to the Coyotes paying Yandle $23,529 per point.  However, Yandle's contributions go much further than points, and because of that, he is well-deserving of our seat at No. 2.

1. Claude Giroux

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    On our journey to No. 1, as the cheap stars slowly pass by, who else could fill the No. 1 slot aside from Philadelphia Flyer Claude Giroux.  

    Giroux was one of those players who flew a bit under the radar before the All-Star game put him in the league's spotlight, and with an impressive 54 points and just a $822,000 cap hit, he was a given for the top seat.  

    The Flyers are paying Giroux just $15,222 per point, and the season is not yet over.