When the NHL introduced the salary cap, it was meant to give every team an equal chance at competing. Unfortunately, some teams have found ways to circumvent the cap and spend a lot of money, money that other teams don't have, on the best players.
With all the big front-loaded contracts and the fact that the NHL and the NHLPA have already had to modify the current collective bargaining agreement, it does not bode well for the NHL's future. Obviously the NHL still has more work to do in its quest to make the NHL perfect.
The players and their contracts on this list are a big reason that the NHL could very well be heading towards another lockout after next season.
Contract: $45 million over six years
While fourth in team scoring during the regular season with 64 points, Dany Heatley only registered nine points in 18 playoff games with the San Jose Sharks. In fact, Heatley has never been that much of a playoff performer, never scoring more than seven goals in the postseason.
When your fans are thinking that it might be a good idea to buy out the contract of a player who is a perennial 60-point producer, there might be a problem. If San Jose can't fix its playoff issue by next year, Heatley might be the first one on the chopping block.
Contract: $51.5 million over seven years
Seven. That's the number of goals scored by Scott Gomez this past season. Eight. That is how many millions Gomez was paid this past season.
See a problem? A player like Gomez should be putting up more goals than the number of millions he's making. A closer look at his stats shows that he has only scored more than 20 goals once in his career, in 2005-06. While he has usually made up for his low goal totals with high assist totals, this year was different as he only reached 31.
It was a miracle that he was traded once during this contract. Montreal has no chance of finding another sucker bigger than itself.
Contract: $57 million over eight years
The day that Brian Campbell signed with Chicago, I was astounded that it would give him so much money per year. Don't get me wrong, Campbell is not a bad defenseman, but there is no way that he should be making more than Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
His best year in Chicago was his first and he hasn't matched his totals since. With the cap situation that Chicago still finds itself in, it definitely would not mind shedding his contract.
Contract: $39 million over six years
Wade Redden was a pretty good defenseman for the Ottawa Senators. Then the New York Rangers decided to give him a nice raise and he has repaid them by giving them two subpar years before being sent down to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL.
To put things in perspective, in 156 games with the Rangers, he compiled 40 points. In his best season with the Sens, 2005-06, he tallied 50 points in only 65 games.
While there has been trade talk surrounding Sheldon Souray, another high-paid AHLer, no one is talking about Redden, and I wouldn't be surprised if he retired in the next couple of seasons if he doesn't make it back to the NHL.
Contract: $67.5 million over 15 years
While he only makes $4.5 million a season, no one would ever take on this massive contract. Five years into the contract, he has never played a full season with the New York Islanders.
Only Patrik Stefan saves DiPietro from being the worst No.1 overall pick ever. The fact that Mike Milbury gave up Roberto Luongo so DiPietro could be the starter makes this contract even worse.
If DiPietro can play for a few years injury free, then maybe his contract won't be so untradeable. However, that's a big if and even if he does, he won't be trade bait until at least 2018-19.
Contract: $35.25 million over five years
The captain of the New York Rangers, Chris Drury is another victim of having a good year or two with his previous team and then signing with the Rangers and seeing his production fall.
Missing all but 24 games this past season, Drury is entering the last year of the contract in which he will be paid $5 million. As a candidate for a buyout this off-season, Drury is perhaps the player on this list that is most likely to be traded.
Contract: $63.3 million over 12 years
While he finally lifted the Stanley Cup in his third try in a row, Marian Hossa's contract is one of the ones that the NHL first had a problem with. The front-loaded contract has him earning $7.9 million until the 2015-16 season. He makes $4 million the next season and only $1 million for four more seasons.
Seeing that he will be 42 by the time the contract ends, there is little chance that he'll play until the end of the contract. He has been dependable for 50 points the past couple of seasons and will most likely continue that trend for at least a couple more seasons, but when his production starts decreasing, Chicago will be looking for a way to offload his contract.
Contract: $64 million over 12 years
If Roberto Luongo can lead Vancouver to the Stanley Cup this season, there will be no question that he will have earned the $10 million that he made this season. He makes just over $6.7 million for the next seven seasons and while he shouldn't even be mentioned in trade talks, barring a major meltdown, the Canucks are already in a little bit of cap trouble and it will only get tougher as the years go on.
Luongo's contract will eventually cost them a very good goaltender in Cory Schnieder, and that might only be the first of a few players that leave Vancouver because of Luongo.
Contract: $85 million over 11 years
The Tampa Bay Lightning's captain currently is part of a problem it is facing this off-season. With Steven Stamkos becoming a restricted free agent on July 1, the Lightning will need to do some juggling with its cap space. Stamkos will most likely be getting around $7 million per season. If that is around his total cap hit, then Tampa Bay will have around $14 million wrapped up in two players, and $19 million with Martin St. Louis added in.
If the Lightning don't figure out a way to make the team work with so much money entangled in three players, it could be in trouble. Steve Yzerman's mettle will be tested.
Contract: $100 million over 15 years
Ilya Kovalchuk. The one player who will single-handedly lead the NHL into a lockout in 2012-13. While his cap hit is less, Kovalchuk makes more than double the total money that Sidney Crosby makes. There is a big problem with that, because no matter what Kovalchuk thinks, he is nowhere near as big a star as Crosby.
The fact that the original offer was for $102 million over 17 years is astounding. If there is one thing I applaud the NHL for, it's the punishment it handed the Devils for that original offer. Seeing that part of the punishment is forfeiting a first-round pick in the next four years, wouldn't it get the point across that the NHL doesn't like these type of deals to have them lose this year's pick?