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NHL Free Agents 2011: The 15 Most Boneheaded Deals of the Summer

Brad LeClairCorrespondent IAugust 10, 2011

NHL Free Agents 2011: The 15 Most Boneheaded Deals of the Summer

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    NHL free agency came and went pretty quickly this summer, but not without leaving a trail of dollar bills in its wake. With an increase in salary cap, you really did see some teams break the bank in an effort to either reach the cap floor, or just spend some extra cash that they had at their disposal.

    Many teams decided to stand pat at free agency, electing to either stay put or just make trades to improve their roster while others decided it was necessary to spend like there's no tomorrow.

    Here we take a look at the top 15 most boneheaded deals from this past summer.

15. Sean Bergenheim

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    Signed With: Florida Panthers

    Term: Four years

    Cost: $11 million

    Bergeinheim was an effective checking forward for the Lightning during their playoff run last year, however spending more than $2.5 million a year on a checking forward with no real offensive upside to me says overpayment. He only got 29 points last year, so if you look at it this way, he gets paid almost $92,000 for each point he puts on the board.

    He will be another effective player for the Panthers, but in the grand scheme of things, that team needed scoring bad, and did they get it with Bergenheim? Likely, they did not.

14. Michael Ryder

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    Signed With: Dallas Stars

    Term: Two years

    Cost: $7 million

    After scoring a grand total of 41 points in 79 games playing on Boston's third line, Ryder got his payday anyways with the Stars, who were desperate for goal scoring after Brad Richards left for Broadway.

    Ryder was always a pretty inconsistent goal scorer even though he has potted 30 goals in a season more than once. He's a frustrating player to watch to some degree. Clarke MacArthur signed the same contract with the Leafs and scored 21 more points last season.

13. Roman Hamrlik

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    Signed With: Washington Capitals

    Term: Two years

    Cost: $7 million

    Being 37 years old and likely playing on the third defensive unit in Washington means Hamrlik has one thing on his mind and that's the Stanley Cup. I still find spending $3.5 million on an aging defenseman on a young team isn't really a smart move. Hamrlik lacks real foot speed and isn't best at getting out of his own end.

    With Carlson, Green, Orlov, Alzner, Wideman and Schultz already on the squad, Hamrlik if he has a bad camp, he could be on the outside looking in.

12. Tomas Kopecky

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    Signed With: Florida Panthers

    Term: Four years

    Cost: $12 million

    Kopecky last season had a career year with the Blackhawks scoring 42 points in 81 games, essentially getting a point every other game. He played mostly in the Hawks' bottom six. But surprise, surprise—he had a career year in a contract year. Would any team be stupid enough to overpay?

    The man who overpaid for him is none other than his former GM in Chicago, Dale Tallon, who again was desperate to add salary to his squad because they needed to hit the cap floor. I deem $3 million a season for Kopecky too much, and if they're relying on him to provide some much-needed offense, I really doubt that will happen in Florida.

11. Scottie Upshall

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    Signed With: Florida Panthers

    Term: Four years

    Cost: $14 million

    Last season was the first season that Upshall managed to play more than 75 games in a single NHL season. He only scored 22 goals and added 12 assists for 34 games in 82 games. Now this is the classic "potential" signing. Upshall was drafted sixth overall in 2002 and has really only played one full season in the NHL.

    This signing will go down as either one of the best, or one of the worst if Upshall's injury woes follow him to Florida.

10. Tim Connolly

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    Signed With: Toronto Maple Leafs

    Term: Two years

    Cost: $9.5 million

    Connolly has had injury issues most of his career, and adding to the intrigue is him signing in the hockey hotbed of the NHL in Toronto, where even a fourth-liner who isn't putting up points will get poked and prodded by the media.

    In Toronto, fans and media alike expect one thing from all their players and that is to compete. Questions from last season were all about Connolly's compete level. There are times he looks like he's just going through the motions and if he pulls that off in Toronto regularly, look for him to get called out by a lot of media in the coming season.

    The term is perfect for the Leafs, however, already having a few overpaid players on their team doesn't help their cap situation at all. Connolly is the closest to a first-line center the team has had in years, so we'll see how this all turns out.

9. Andrei Markov

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    Signed With: Montreal Canadiens

    Term: Three years

    Cost: $17.25 million

    The last two seasons, Andrei Markov has played a grand total of 52 games out of a possible 164-game schedule. He's played less than a third of the schedule, yet he managed to become one of the highest-paid defenseman during this year's free agency.

    This is a classic example of veteran experience and an organization's past history with a player. I've never seen a player get a pay raise after playing about a third of their games. Markov is a great defender when healthy, I just hope for his sake, those freak injuries he got the last few years were exactly that—freak injuries.

8. Ville Leino

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    Signed With: Buffalo Sabres

    Term: Four years

    Cost: $18 million

    Leino is a wonderful young player, however Buffalo may have overpaid here to get him. Leino is a winger and will likely play on the second line next season. But there is a chance he could be a third-liner as well if the Sabres choose to go with a top six of Jason Pominville/Derek Roy/Thomas Vanek on the first line and Drew Stafford/Paul Gaustad/Tyler Ennis on the second line.

    Again, paying over $4 million a season for a third-line player does not make any sense to me, but again, will Leino prove me wrong this upcoming season? We will see!

7. Sheldon Souray

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    Signed With: Dallas Stars

    Term: One year

    Cost: $1.6 million

    I've never really been a fan of Souray's. He's primarily used for his point shot on the power play and really lacks any defensive prowess on the back end. He's a power-play quarterback and really that's all he is.

    After getting sent down to the minors by the Oilers, Souray really didn't wow anyone and questions about his foot speed were raised. Somehow he managed to still sign with an NHL team this summer. To them I say: good luck.

6. Tomas Fleischmann

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    Signed With: Florida Panthers

    Term: Four years

    Cost: $18 million

    The Panthers seem to be the poster boy for paying for injury risks and again they signed another one in Tomas Fleischmann. He missed 37 games last season due to a blood clot in his leg. He played pretty decently after a trade from the Washington Capitals on a line with Matt Duchene. He nearly averaged a point per game, getting 22 points in 23 games.

    Was that a "Flash" in the pan, or is this just Tomas hitting his stride?

5. Zach Parise

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    Signed With: New Jersey Devils

    Term: One year

    Cost: $6 million

    I'm not disgusted with this deal at all as Parise is worth every penny, however I'm still very curious as to why the Devils never worked out a long-term contract with Parise.

    With rumors abound that he may sign elsewhere next season, why are the Devils risking him leaving after this contract expires? The term is what bothers me here and hopefully, for the Devils' sake, this move does not backfire.

4. James Wisniewski

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    Signed With: Columbus Blue Jackets

    Term: Six years

    Cost: $33 million

    If my information is correct, other than Shea Weber, James Wisniewski was the highest-paid defenseman during this year's free agency. Others such as Christian Ehrhoff, Joni Pitkanen, Tomas Kaberle and Andrei Markov all signed for less money and are arguably better all-around defensemen.

    Wisniewski enjoyed a career season last year, but like I say with all career seasons in a contract year, signing them comes with a lot of risk. Being a Leafs fan, I remember the team signing Jason Blake to a long-term contract after a 40-goal season, to only see him struggle mightily with the team the following season.

    Is Wisniewski a top-four defender? Of course, but is he worth that much? I highly doubt it.

3. Christian Ehrhoff

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    Signed With: Buffalo Sabres

    Term: 10 Years

    Cost: $40 million

    Yes, you read that correctly—the Sabres gave out a 10-year contract. It's not that I don't think Ehrhoff is worth the $4 million a season; it's just with long-term contracts like that, I feel many players get complacent with their team and themselves after signing such a long-term deal.

    Ehrhoff also gave off a little bit of a bad vibe during the playoffs this past season. I mean, vibes are only one thing, but his compete level wasn't as high as Kevin Bieksa's and we see what happened there as the Canucks decided to let their highest-scoring defenseman go in the offseason and chose to re-sign Bieksa and Sami Salo instead.

2. Ilya Bryzgalov

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    Signed With: Philadelphia Flyers

    Term: Nine years

    Cost: $51 million

    The boneheaded thing about this deal is that to fit him in, the Flyers needed to overhaul their roster. Was it in need of that much of a facelift? Not really, but to get that goalie they were looking for, they had to change things up.

    It would've been nice had Tomas Vokoun signed for cheap there, however he chose to sign for cheap in Washington.

    With Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Darrell Powe, Dan Carcillo, Ville Leino and Brian Boucher gone, the Flyers will have a completely new look next season.

1. Semyon Varlamov

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    Signed With: Colorado Avalanche

    Term: Two years

    Cost: $5.5 million

    Seems pretty legit to pay roughly $2.75 million a season for a good goaltender. However, the one thing that the Avalanche screwed up here is actually making the trade with Washington to acquire Varlamov.

    The Capitals had Tomas Vokoun in their sight lines and if the Avalanche waited a little longer, they could have signed Varlamov to that offer sheet and likely signed him because the Capitals would have had three NHL-ready goalies already with Vokoun, Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby already on their roster.

    Instead, the Avalanche traded a first- and a second-round pick in 2012, a very deep draft, for the rights to Varlamov. Varlamov ending up signing for around $5.5 million.

    Compensation for signing a restricted free agent worth $1.5-3 million is a second-round pick.

    Is Varlamov likely worth a top-five pick this year? I highly doubt that.

    It's with that I say patience is a virtue, and had the Avalanche waited a little longer, they may still have their first-round pick at their disposal.

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