NHL Busts: The Biggest Busts in the Salary Cap Era

Mark ColvinCorrespondent IOctober 28, 2011

NHL Busts: The Biggest Busts in the Salary Cap Era

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    Since the National Hockey League has instituted a salary cap, the importance of smart spending and prospect development has risen. A deep pocket (i.e. Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers) can no longer makeup for bad decisions.

    A league learning curve has emerged, with plenty of mistakes along the way. 

    Here's a look at some of those mistakes and the biggest busts in the post-lockout era.

Jiri Tlusty

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    Whether it was because he was pushed into the bigs too early or just couldn't handle the pressure, no one really knows what happened to him.

    The one thing that is for certain is that he didn't live up to expectation. 

    Tlusty was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs 13th overall in '06, and it has been his only accomplishment since then. Now wasting away in Carolina, Tlusty is the definition of a bust. 

    The only thing Tlusty has been good for in his career is a good set of nudies his ex-girlfirend decided to take viral. 

Cam Barker

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    A stud defensmen rising through the WHL ranks, Cam Barker was drafted to join the likes of Keith and Seabrook as the future of the Chicago Blackhawks blue line.

    Unfortunately, things didn't quite workout the way Chicago planned. They went on to do great things, with little to no help from Barker. He is now a member of the weak defensive corpse in Edmonton, getting solid minutes this year due to a lack of real NHL-calibre defensemen. 

    Being a third overall draft choice, the Winnipeg native was a major bust.

Rick DiPietro

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    Rick DiPietro had a great start to his career. Drafted No. 1 overall by the Islanders in 2000, he represented the new face of the franchise and a cornerstone goaltender in the league.

    This hype got him a 15-year (no typo), close-to-$70 million contract extension. And this was after they already went bananas on Yashin, which the Islanders are still feeling the effects of in buyout costs today. 

    DiPietro, to no surprise, has not lived up to expectation. Injuries have derailed his career, and with Montoya rising as a real talent, it leaves New York in an awkward position. 

Wade Redden

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    This guy isn't even in the NHL anymore. The New York Rangers decided to burry his contract with their AHL affiliate because they didn't see the value in the wasting $6.5 million of cap space on a player who is no more then average. The offensive upside shown early in his career has vanished, leaving Redden with no real strength to bring to a team.

    Why do the Rangers love to throw around big terms and overpay people so much? Why does Sather even still have a job? The man gave away Gretzky. 

    You kind of have to feel bad for Redden. It's not his fault they threw loads of money at him, and now he has to suck up his pride and be a professional. Time to rot in Hartford.   

Tim Connolly

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    Before even looking through this slideshow, you had to know he was going to be here. He is the poster boy of busts. As injury-prone as they come. 

    Connolly has essentially never amounted to anything. He overstayed his welcome in Buffalo, becoming one of the fan's most hated because he never became a consistent player. His career has been spent on the IR. 

    Which leads us to the confusing part. Why then did Toronto elect to pay him $4.75 million a year?

Scott Gomez

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    The Alaskan native produced early on in his career, becoming a great role player for the Devils. This success led to the New York Rangers paying top dollar to bring him in as a centrepiece of their franchise. He never was able to live up to the upwards of $7 million he earns a year and got traded to Montreal a few years ago.

    Gomez is a respectable NHL-calibre player, who tallies up assists but struggles to find the back of the net. He is a playmaker, but has been expected to score goals for no apparent reason.

    Gomez finds himself on this list simply because he was a free-agency bust, one that the Rangers eventually gave up on.Iit seems like they will never learn their lesson when throwing out the cash. Again, why is Sather employed?  

Wojtek Wolski/ Peter Mueller

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    These guys were exchanged for each other a few years back, as they were up-and-coming talents in the league. I, for one, thought it was a great trade and couldn't wait to see who wold turn out to be the more valuable player.  

    Unfortunately, since this transaction, it has looked like the both of them are cursed. They have yet to regain their form from playing with Colorado and Phoenix respectively. Mueller, having injury troubles, and Wolski, who even knows! Wolski is the biggest question mark out of the two, as he has basically just fallen off the map.  

Patrik Stefan

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    Though he only played part of two season after the lockout occurred, this story is just too good not to add.

    What essentially started the Thrashers off on their route to being the most embarrassing franchise in NHL history was the drafting of Stefan first overall, right in front of the Sedin brothers (who went No. 2 and No. 3).  

    What a sour taste that leaves in the mouth. Stefan's career amounted to nothing, as he is currently playing over in Europe. Can you say bust?

Cristolbal Huet

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    The Chicago Blackhawks put a lot of confidence in Huet, touting him to be their starting goaltender of the future. And he let them down. 

    After getting a $22.4 million, four-year deal from the club, Huet's stock started to plummet. He lost his starters job and just isn't consistent enough to be an elite NHL goalie.   

    Huet ended up getting loaned out to a team in Switzerland. As if they do that in hockey? 


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    All this hype and nothing to show for it. These guys are a disaster. Straight up.

    Honourable Mention: Jeff Finger. Might have been the most questionable contract of all-time, but he didn't make the list because he wasn't really a bust. No one ever expected much out of him except, apparently, Cliff Fletcher. Moving on.

    Whether it was a prospect who never lived up to their potential, or a free agent who couldn't produce, these guys all showed some level of "bust."

    Sometimes it isn't a player's fault for falling short, as no player creates draft hype about themselves or sets the price tag they are given on free agency. But you can be sure that many GMs have pulled out their hair because of the guys on this list.  

    Anyone you think should have made the list? Let me know!