For NHL franchises, players are investments. Sometimes you pay for future performance while other times you reward past glory. It doesn't always work out, and you may end up stuck paying for nothing, or paying too much for just average performance.
Each team has someone they are paying too much for.
Many of these contracts made sense at the time, while others never did. That doesn't mean that the guy cashing the paycheck is a bum. After all, who among us would tell our employer "no thanks, I'm not worth that much"?
We are not here to judge...OK, so maybe we are.
Here is one guy from each team that makes too much money.
I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that there is someone on this list that will anger someone. So feel free to tell me how lame my selection for you favorite team was.
Also, the salary numbers in this piece are the cap hit for the team and are provided by Capgeek.
Jason Blake is in the last year of a five-year contract and is a $4 million cap hit for the Ducks this season. Blake signed that contract with Toronto after scoring 40 goals for the Islanders in 2006-2007.
Blake hasn’t come close to putting up those types of numbers since, and he is overpaid.
Not that he is terrible, he can provide some secondary scoring, but for that big of a cap hit, you would expect more. Blake is looking at a pay cut next season.
Listing the most overpaid NHL players can be tough. The Bruins actually have decent contracts for most of their players. Chara is a $6.9 Million cap hit and he heads this list for Boston.
Now, this isn’t to imply that Chara is a terrible player. He’s not. He’s really good in fact. But that cap hit puts him up with the elite defenseman in the NHL and may be a bit more than he is worth.
Chara is 34 and is on the books for seven more seasons. As age creeps up on him, the Bruins may feel they are strapped with his cap number.
The Sabres spent a little dough this offseason and signed Christian Ehrhoff to a deal that many said was too big. They may have overpaid for Ehrhoff, but the most overpaid Sabres player is Thomas Vanek.
Vanek is a quality player and has twice clipped the 40-goal mark. Last season he was 17th in the NHL in scoring. Not too shabby.
The problem is that, with his $7.1 million cap hit, he is paid too much. Of the 16 players ahead of him on the scoring list, only two made more. Vanek is getting paid as a top scorer and he doesn’t match up with the league’s best.
Calgary signed the big defenseman to a five-year contract that brings with it a $6.6 million cap hit. The Flames thought they were getting a top-flight puck-moving defenseman who had two consecutive seasons in Florida with 15 goals.
What they’ve received is a guy who has been a big disappointment.
In two years with the Flames, he has scored five goals and is paid as an elite defenseman. The Flames have been terrible in those years as well, and Bouwmeester has become the poster child for the team’s ineptness.
The Hurricanes signed defenseman Tomas Kaberle this offseason after he won the Stanley Cup with Boston.
When Kaberle was in Toronto, there were constant trade rumors swirling around him, and it appeared every team was drooling over the prospect of bringing in the puck-moving defenseman.
With Boston last season, he looked tentative and lost at times. Most people feel that the Bruins won, many ways in spite of him, and the fact that Carolina is willing to part with $4.2 million over the next three seasons is a surprise.
Carolina may not get their investment back.
The Blackhawks are just now recovering from their cap hell that caused them to get rid of several key players last year. However, Hossa remains.
Hossa signed with Chicago for 12 years. Let that sink in. 12 years. His deal is costing the Blackhawks $5.2 million against the cap.
While Hossa can score, he is inconsistent and can disappear for large stretches during a game. He makes more than Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland and is on par with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
Blackhawks fans would be hard pressed to claim Hossa means more, or even as much, as those players.
Stastny has three years left on his contract, which is hitting Colorado for $6.6 million a year. That is nearly twice as much as the next highest paid Avalanche player.
While Stastny can be an exciting player, that is an awful big dollar figure for a guy who has yet to score 30 goals in a season.
With Matt Duchene hitting the restricted free agency level next season Colorado may be desperate to deal Stastny or risk losing the guy who appears to be headed for a $6 million pay day.
Stastny’s name came up this summer in trade rumors, but it appears other teams think he is overpaid as well.
Huselius is in the final year of his contract that is costing the Blue Jackets $4.7 million of cap space. That is a lot of scratch for a player who has been a decent scorer but is coming off a season that saw him only play 39 games due to injuries.
If he is healthy, and can pot 20 or more goals and help Columbus make the playoffs, that might be money well spent.
Most likely he is a guy who will be getting a pay cut with his next contract.
The Stars are going through financial uncertainty as a franchise, and haven’t really spent much money on anyone. For that, they lost their best player in Brad Richards.
They did bring in Michael Ryder, from Boston, for $3.5 million a year in the hope that he can help lessen the loss of Richards.
Ryder was a perennial 30-goal scorer a few years ago in Montreal, but he saw those numbers dwindle the past two seasons in Boston. In his two years with the Bruins, he scored 18 goals each season and the Bruins did not feel he was a big part of their future.
Their loss is Dallas’ gain?
The Red Wings are the best-run franchise in the NHL. Because of that, they do not have to overpay players, as many are willing to leave money on the table for the chance to play with them.
So, finding the most overpaid player for Detroit is tough. We will admit that we are nit-picking here.
That nit is Valtteri Filppula. The Red Wings are giving the Finnish forward $3 million a year and, while he has some flash in his game, he has yet to really take off in the NHL.
Since arriving in Edmonton, Khabibulin has been somewhat of a mess. Cashing in on his past success, he is milking the Oilers for $3.7 million a year.
He has yet to post a goals-against under three, and seemingly has lost the starting goalie spot to youngster Devin Dubnyk, who is making quite a bit less.
With the off-ice issues that have plagued him, it seems that he might be costing Edmonton even more than just money.
The Panthers spent money this summer like a drunk sailor on leave. Do sailors spend money when drunk?
Anyway, they brought in Campbell this offseason and he’s costing them a cool $7.1 million over the next five years. This is a guy that Blackhawks fans couldn’t get rid of last season.
Campbell is supposed to be a good scoring defenseman, however, his numbers have been on a steady decline the last two seasons. Maybe the sunshine in Florida will revive him…but probably not.
Drew Doughty was the center of drama this summer as he was holding out for a new contract. As the season was drawing nearer, the Kings relented and gave Doughty an eight-year contract that is costing them $7 million a year.
Doughty is a good player, but that is a lot of money for a young guy who regressed last season.
On top of that, he is now making more than Anze Kopitar, who is far more valuable to the Kings, and you have to wonder how that is sitting with him.
The Wild brought in Heatley in a trade with San Jose this summer and have inherited his $7.5 million a year contract.
Heatley was once a great scorer in the NHL, but saw his numbers fall off last year. Then the playoffs hit. He looked lost and disinterested and was shipped out of town.
$7 million is a lot for a guy who scored 64 points last year playing with a team filled with offensive stars. He won’t be playing with guys of the same caliber in Minnesota, and he could see another drop in his production.
Gomez was the NHL poster boy for bad contracts last year, when he only managed 38 points and was a minus 15. All that for a $7.3 million hit to Montreal.
Was he ever worth that money? Gomez had been a solid player in New Jersey, but he was never worth the money he is getting now.
Montreal is stuck with him for two more seasons after this one, as it is unlikely any team is going to take him off their hands.
It might be easy to list defenseman Shea Weber here after he was awarded a giant $7.5 million deal this summer in arbitration. Weber is the highest paid Predators player and, in many ways, deservedly so.
Erat is the next highest paid Nashville player at $4.5 for the next four seasons.
Erat is a nice player, but he is not the next most important player for Nashville, and with the tight purse strings they have, you have to wonder if they will be able to resign Ryan Suter and Pekke Rinne.
Was there any doubt? Kovalchuk can score, without question. He lacks a two-way game, and the fact that he is going to cost the Devils $6.6 million against the cap until the 2024-2025 season has to be concerning for Devils fans.
Will Kovalchuck, who scored 60 points last year, end up costing them Zach Parise next year?
If the Devils are unable to afford Parise, that $6.6 million cap hit might feel like even more.
DiPietro’s “lifetime” contract has become a punch line around the league. The Islanders have him locked up at $4.5 million until the year 2020-2021.
While $4.5 million isn’t over the top for a top goalie, for DiPietro, it is absurd.
DiPietro has been good, but for the past three seasons he has missed a significant amount of time due to injuries. Again, him getting injured is a punch line, just like this contract.
Gaborik is a goal scoring machine…when healthy. It’s that lack of health that has dogged him during his career.
The Rangers are paying him $7.5 million a year, and last year he scored 48 points. 48 for $7 million is not a good payback.
Even if Gaborik stays healthy and gels with Brad Richards, you have to wonder if he is worth the amount of money he is getting.
The Senators are quite the mess these days and have some dead weight they are paying. While Jason Spezza is bringing in $7 million a year, the most overpaid Senator is Sergei Gonchar.
Ottawa signed Gonchar last year and are paying him $5.5 million a year only to see his production drop from a 50-point season in 2009-2010, to 27 last year.
To top it off, he appears distracted and checked out. At 37 years old, you have to wonder if he was more interested in cashing in than he was contributing.
Pronger is still a good player, but he is bringing in $4.9 million a year, and at 35 years old that is too much. Yes, he can still be a menacing presence on the ice and provides leadership.
Clearly age is catching up with Pronger—he only managed to play in 50 games last season. For $4.9 million a year, you want your leader to be there every night.
The Flyers can’t count on that from Pronger any more.
Rozsival was traded to Phoenix last season from the Rangers and combined for 21 points. 21 points for $5 million a year.
That is overpaid in any book. Even more so when you consider he makes more than team leader Shane Doan does.
Phoenix is a franchise in trouble and needs to get better return on their players. Rozsival is flat out stealing money from them.
Malkin is easily one of the more talented players in the league and is paid for that. The problem is that at $8.7 million a year, the same rate as Sidney Crosby, you need him to play more.
Malkin has been injury prone and has averaged only 55 games the past two seasons. Already this season, he is out with an injury.
The Penguins need him to stay healthy to make that money worth it. As it is now, they are overpaying for him.
The Blues, like most teams that are for sale, have been tight with their budget. They aren’t grossly overpaying any one, they’ll save that for the new ownership group.
Andy McDonald is the best candidate for being overpaid. He is bringing in $4.7 million, which is tops on the Blues, and he is not their best player.
Not that he is terrible, he’s not, but the Blues could spend that money in better areas.
The Sharks dumped overpaid Dany Heatley on the Wild, and in return, took on Havlat. Havlat is much cheaper than Heatley was, but is still making too much money.
He is earning $5 million a year, and that is more than Joe Pavelski and Ryane Clowe. It is hard to imagine that Havlat will be more important or vital to the Sharks' success than those guys.
Havlat is not a bad player, but it is hard to imagine he would bring in that salary on the free agent market.
Is Vincent LeCavalier the most overpaid player in the NHL? It is quite possible.
The Lightning are handing over $7.7 million a year for LeCavalier, who had two monster years in his career, but since, he has been just a good player.
His salary is even more shocking when you consider he is making more than Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. You know, the two most valueable players for Tampa Bay.
LeCavalier should feel guilty every time he cashes a paycheck.
Dion Phaneuf busted into the league with a bang in 2005, scoring 20 goals for the Flames. We all thought we were witnessing the birth of the next great NHL defenseman.
For whatever reason, his numbers have declined since that year, and now, with Toronto, he is making $6.5 million a year. For a defenseman who can score 20 goals and play physical, that salary would be justifiable.
Phaneuf hasn’t been that for the Maple Leafs, and you could get Phaneuf’s production for a lot less money.
The Canucks picked up Ballard in a trade before last season, and the thought was that he would play a big role for Vancouver. Due to injuries, inconsistent play and landing in bad favor with the coach, he was more often a healthy scratch.
That’s a lot to swallow considering he is making $4.2 million a year.
Ballard appears to be in good favor so far this year, and may live up to that contract, but so far, the Canucks have not been getting their money’s worth.
The Capitals are paying Semin $6.7 million a year and have had little to show for it. While he is blessed with some considerable offensive talent, his numbers took a dramatic dip last season.
His point total went from 84 in 2009-2010 to only 54 last season. 54 points for $6.7 million is hardly a bargain. On top of it all, his heart and work ethic have been questioned.
Semin, in many ways, has become the face of underachievement that has dogged the Capitals the past couple of years. You wonder if he ponders that fact while relaxing in the lap of luxury his salary has given him?
The Jets are another team that have yet to open the vault for players, so finding someone overpaid is a little tough. Antropov may be the best candidate, making $4 million a year.
With Atlanta, he scored 24 goals two seasons ago, which would make his salary understandable, but last year he saw his goal total dip to 16. Hardly enough to justify his salary.
This season, Antropov scored the Jets first goal in their new home, but has looked a bit lost on the ice. He will need to step it up if he means to keep making the money he is now.