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NHL Free Agents 2011: The Biggest Mistakes in Free Agency so Far

Mark PareCorrespondent IIJuly 26, 2011

NHL Free Agents 2011: The Biggest Mistakes in Free Agency so Far

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    One of the good things about this free agency is that you haven't seen deals that are over 10 years.  In previous years, it was all the rage.  Ask Marian Hossa and Vincent Lecavalier, or even Ilya Kovalchuk.

    This year has seen their fair share of contracts that border on the ridiculous.

    Here are some of them that were not necessarily bad for the individual, but does leave some to question the motives of their respective General Manager.

    All numbers in this slideshow provided by CapGeek.com

James Wisnewski (to Columbus)

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    Contract: Six years, $33 million ($5.5 million cap hit)

    How does James Wisnewski get a contract that big?  He will be making $7 million in his first two years and he hasn't been that significant.  On top of that, he gets a signing bonus of $2 million this year and $3 million next year.  Everything in total, he'll be making as much as Alex Ovechkin in his second year.

    Wisnewski has been getting one-year deals his entire career—then Columbus doles out $33 million to him?

    What did he do with the Canadiens last season that made him worth more than the $3.3 million he earned in 2010-11?

    Wisnewski's cap hit rivals a guy like Mike Richards.  He has been in the playoffs twice in his NHL career and now he is the highest paid defenseman on a Columbus team that is trying to rebuild and get star power on their roster so that their fans will actually show up.

    Here is the kicker: you have six years of this coming.  In a year or two, will we be talking about how much of a steal this was or how Columbus wants to trade him away because of how much a burden this contract is on their cap.

    Anyway, job well done Columbus...at least in terms of landing Jeff Carter.

Andrei Markov (stays in Montreal)

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    Contract: Three years, $17.25 million ($5.75 million cap hit)

    Sure, Montreal let Columbus sign Wisnewski for a lucrative deal but Montreal wasn't all good this offseason.

    Their signing of Andrei Markov was good in a way that they have someone to help P.K. Subban mature into his game.

    The bad news behind it is that Markov has had two straight seasons with injury problems and you're gonna hand the guy a contract extension that is worth a $5.5 million cap hit?

    The bad side to this deal will hit them hard in about a year from now.  If they stay the team that they are, they should make the playoffs but will probably have an early exit.

    When the offseason rolls around, Lars Eller and P.K. Subban will be RFA's and believe me, they'll want a raise.  Oh, let's not forget Carey Price, who will want a big raise.

    Then you have Andrei Kostitsyn, who will probably play his heart out this year so he can stay in Montreal.  His upgraded play will earn a raise.

    Josh Gorges, Hal Gill, Jaroslav Spacek and Travis Moen.  All these players will either sign or need to be replaced.

    In the end, this is a horrible contract for Montreal because it hinders their ability to get better, especially if Markov gets injured again.

Brooks Laich (stays in Washington)

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    Contract: Six years, $27 million ($4.5 million cap hit)

    Although this contract seems more like a loyalty bonus, this is just another contract that the Capitals could regret in a few years if they don't go farther than the conference semifinal.

    This is quite similar to the contract with Andrei Markov in that there is more on the horizon for this Washington team.

    Mike Green is an RFA next year and replacing the talents of Alex Semin and Mike Knuble will be expensive.

    Even now, the Caps are fighting with the cap and they already have over $41 million locked into 13 players.

    This contract shows that the Capitals have no clue on how to balance the cap, although the signing of Tomas Vokoun will say otherwise.

    Good on Laich to get his raise for his consistency, but it wasn't wise for Washington.

Jaromir Jagr (to Philadelphia)

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    Contract: One year, $3.3 million

    The thing about Jaromir Jagr is that he was a great player—WAS a great player.

    The former 50-goal man had to leave the NHL because his production dipped significantly.  To put it in perspective, his goal and point totals were cut in half within three seasons as he has since played in the KHL.

    He has gotten quite older and can provide a winning attitude to a Philadelphia team that has been dismantled to shreds in the last number of months.

    Jagr isn't worth the $3.3 million he is getting paid and will probably be a disappointment, considering he is past his prime and will be under major scrutiny to perform, or have a retirement-watch over him at all points of the upcoming season.

    A team that was once comprised of players that led them to the Stanley Cup Finals are now in a state of doubters.  This year will show whether or not the big moves were worth it for the Flyers.

    In terms of Jagr's contract, the length is perfect.  The amount, however, is still questionable.

Christian Erhoff/Ville Leino (to Buffalo)

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    Christian Erhoff Contract: 10 year, $40 million ($4 million cap hit)

    Ville Leino Contract: Six years, $27 million ($4.5 million cap hit)

    When it comes to both of these signings, someone forgot to tell Terry Pegula that the NHL runs under a salary cap.

    With Erhoff, I like the $4 million but not for 10 years.  I have never been  a fan of the long-term contracts (call me Brian Burke) so I will just leave it at that.

    For Leino, this guy hasn't played long enough to earn this amount.  He is a good player but he was earning $825,000 last season.  He had a good postseason for the Flyers when they made the Stanley Cup Final but otherwise, he is a 20-goal player at best.  He will be earning $11 million next season if you include bonuses.

    Combined, this puts Buffalo in a tough spot.  They have 15 players under contract for 2012-13 and are about to hit $50 million.  They have three RFA's after this season including Patrick Kaleta, Tyler Ennis and former Calder Trophy winner Tyler Myers.

    With Brad Boyes, Jochen Hecht, Ales Kotalik, Paul Gaustad and Shaonne Morrisonn in their contract years—and a combined $14.9 million in salary cap space—you may see some trades happen early for Buffalo if things don't go well or they want some breathing room this year, considering they are over the cap by $3 million.

Ilya Bryzgalov (to Philadelphia)

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    Contract: Nine years, $51 million ($5,666,666 cap hit)

    Yes, the Flyers needed a starting goaltender.  It has been the one question mark on an otherwise elite franchise.  They competed in the Stanley Cup Final in 2010 with Michael Leighton so if that doesn't speak volumes on the talent they had, what can?

    The contract that Ilya Bryzgalov did two things: it gave the Flyers a starting goaltender for a long time, and put their future in jeopardy.

    Bryzgalov's contract will forever be known as the reason that Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were jettisoned out of town.

    Sure, when you think about it, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn may have fantastic years in Philadelphia, but that is yet to be seen.

    Richards was the face of the franchise and Carter is a former 40-goal scorer.  That is next to impossible to replace.

    Mortgaging your future isn't worth the price paid for Bryzgalov, especially considering he wasn't the best goalie on the block.  Tomas Vokoun anyone?

    What were the worst contracts given out this offseason?  This is a small list but there are more out there so what do you think?

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