Published On: Wed, Mar 7th, 2018

Grading every team's worst contract

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Nearly every team in the NHL has at least one contract it would like to get rid of. For some teams, that deal is a significantly bigger albatross. Here is every team’s worst contract, not including players on LTIR, graded from 1-10 (10 being the worst) based on the following criteria:

  • Cap hit
  • Years remaining (current season not included)
  • Age
  • Player’s value
  • Player’s expected value over duration of contract
  • Ease with which a team could dispose of contract

The deals are grouped into three tiers, starting with the stuff of general managers’ nightmares.

Worst of the worst


Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Zach Parise MIN 33 $7.538M 7

Thirteen-year contracts never seem to end well, and not even halfway through, Parise‘s deal is already brutal. Injuries have held him back over his entire tenure with the Wild, and seem to have rapidly aged him. He has just five goals this season. Grade: 10/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Carey Price MTL 30 $10.5M 8

Yes, Price plays behind a dreadful Montreal Canadiens team, but it’s ignorant to think his game hasn’t fallen off too. An injury-prone, declining goaltender heading into the back nine of his career with a $10.5-million AAV would handcuff the smartest GMs in the league, never mind Marc Bergevin. Grade: 9/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Bobby Ryan OTT 30 $7.25M 4

Ryan hasn’t been the player he was for Anaheim since coming to Ottawa, but the last two seasons have marked a new low. On the bright side, Ryan’s massive salary will help the Sens reach the cap floor if they ultimately deal Erik Karlsson. Grade: 9/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Loui Eriksson VAN 32 $6M 4

Eriksson never jelled with the Sedins like Jim Benning hoped he would. Nor has he really jelled with anyone else, for that matter. Grade: 9/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Milan Lucic EDM 29 $6M 5

Lucic is already a caveman in today’s NHL. He’s too slow to keep up in a game dominated by youth and speed, and with each coming season, he’ll fall further behind. Grade: 9/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Brent Seabrook CHI 32 $6.875M 6

Though still serviceable, Seabrook‘s play declined sharply this year. He’s trending in the wrong direction on a team doing the same. Grade: 9/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Andrew Ladd NYI 32 $5.5M 5

Ladd‘s deal was disastrous from the get-go. He still managed to score 23 goals last year, but had only eight assists. His production has dipped even more this year, and it’s hard to imagine he’ll ever return to being the player he was in Winnipeg. Grade: 9/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Frans Nielsen DET 33 $5.25M 4

Nielsen is still a decent two-way center, albeit slightly overpaid. However, as he approaches his mid-30s, this contract could become ugly, fast. Grade: 8/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Marc Staal NYR 31 $5.7 3

Staal never had much offensive flair, but the shutdown defensive ability he was known for has deteriorated over the last few years, and it’s unlikely he’ll rebound. Grade: 8/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Brandon Dubinsky CBJ 31 $5.85M 3

Dubinsky can still play an in-your-face defensive role, but those types of players generally make a couple million, not $5.85M. Grade: 8/10

Bad, but tolerable


Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Kyle Okposo BUF 29 $6M 5

While Okposo was decent in his first season with Buffalo, he’s dropped off this year. He’s relatively young as far as the players on this list, however, and though it’s a long contract, he could have a couple 50-point seasons left in him. Grade: 6/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
David Backes BOS 33 $6M 3

Backes is still a strong defensive forward, but can he remain as such while contributing offensively into his mid-30s? Probably not. Grade: 6/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Troy Brouwer CGY 32 $4.5M 2

Brouwer doesn’t give the Flames anything, really, but $4.5 million isn’t ridiculous money, and this deal can be disposed of fairly easily. Grade: 6/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Paul Martin SJS 37 $4.875M 1

Martin has played more AHL games than NHL games this season, and he’ll likely be buried in the minors again next year. At least that’ll be the end of it. Grade: 6/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Jason Spezza DAL 34 $7.5M 1

Though Spezza‘s play has cratered, the Stars only have to deal with it for one more season. Grade: 6/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Andrew MacDonald PHI 31 $5M 2

MacDonald definitely isn’t worth $5 million, but he’s still playing top-four minutes on a playoff team, so he must be doing something right. Grade: 5/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Scott Darling CAR 29 $4.15M 3

After three sensational seasons as Chicago’s backup, Darling‘s first campaign as a starter has been a nightmare – he lost his job to Cam Ward. He’s got lots of term left to bounce back, but it looks unlikely. Grade: 5/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Ryan Callahan TBL 32 $5.8M 2

Callahan still does things to help the Lightning win. Those things shouldn’t cost $5.8 million. Grade: 5/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Andy Greene NJD 35 $5M 2

As the Devils‘ captain, Greene clearly provides something beyond what he brings on the ice, but $5 million is a hefty price. Grade: 5/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Brooks Orpik WSH 37 $5.5M 1

Though Orpik is as mean as they come on the back end, that shouldn’t result in such a high cap hit. However, he should be serviceable for one more year. Grade: 5/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Dustin Brown LA 33 $5.875M 4

Brown is having a major bounce-back season after four poor years in a row. Can he do this again? Grade: 4/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Corey Perry ANA 32 $8.625M 3

Perry is no longer the $8-million player he once was, but he’s still capable of 50-60 points. Grade: 4/10

Best of the worst


Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Carl Hagelin PIT 29 $4M 1

Considering the speedy Hagelin is the Penguins‘ worst contract, it’s no surprise they’ve won back-to-back Stanley Cups. Grade: 3/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Matt Martin TOR 28 $2.5M 2

Martin is probably Toronto‘s 14th-best forward, but this contract could easily be buried in the minors if necessary. Grade: 3/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Jake Allen STL 27 $4.35M 3

Allen hasn’t proven he can be a legitimate starting goalie for a full season. While he’s shown flashes, at this point he’s more of an expensive, quality backup. Grade: 2/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Alex Goligoski ARI 32 $5.475M 3

Goligoski might be miscast as a 23-minute D-man in Arizona, but he still produces offensively despite having few scoring options to move the puck to at forward. Grade: 2/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Dmitry Kulikov WPG 27 $4.3M 2

The Jets just signed Kulikov this past offseason, and while $4.3 million seems steep for a sixth defenseman, they’ll have the former first-rounder through his prime years. Grade: 2/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Roberto Luongo FLA 38 $4.53 4

Presently, Luongo is one of the most cost-effective goalies in the league. Whether he can maintain his elite play into his 40s remains to be seen. Grade: 2/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Nick Bonino NSH 29 $4.1 3

Bonino is one heck of a third-line center, and $4.1 million doesn’t hamper David Poile much at all. Grade: 2/10

Player Team Age Cap hit Years left
Tomas Tatar VGK 27 $5.3M 3

Unsurprisingly, the best worst contract in the NHL belongs to the team that just became a team this year. Tatar wasn’t producing like a $5.3-million player in Detroit, but there’s plenty of time to right the ship in Vegas. Grade: 1/10

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)
(Salary information courtesy: Cap Friendly)



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