Saturday, July 9, 2011

The 10 worst NHL contracts

10. Christian Ehrhoff (Buffalo)

Ehrhoff’s contract isn’t as bad as some make it out to be. Sure it’s 10 years but the last 3 years are for just $1 million per season which makes a buyout feasible. What makes this contract ugly is the $18 million in the first two seasons and the fact that Ehrhoff who his turning 30 has to remain healthy and productive for 7 seasons. He will be paid $37 million in those 7 seasons so he isn’t really a $4 million defenseman. He has had 3 productive seasons in a row and has not missed many games in his career. There are some risks here.

9. Marian Hossa (Chicago)

Hossa is entering season 4 of a 12-year contract and he is 32 years old. He will continue to be paid $7.9 million per season until he is 37 years old. The NHL hasn’t had very many players that have been big point producers at that age. He has been a 30-goal scorer 7 times and a 40-goal scorer 3 times. The past two season he has had injury problems and been limited to just 25 goals and under 60 points. Hossa’s contract is a classic example of paying a player based on past performance and not on what he is capable of producing prospectively. This contract will get uglier as time goes on.

8. Ilya Bryzgalov (Philadelphia)

Bryzgalov has been a starter since being picked up on waivers by Phoenix 4 seasons ago. His career GAA is 2.53 and SAV% is .916 which are pretty good. The Flyers have had no luck with goalies and have opened the bank in this case. It’s pretty clear they are overpaying. Forget about the cap hit, Bryzgalov will make $47.5 million over the next 7 seasons when he is 38 years old. There will be just $3.5 million remaining in the final two years of the contract. The butterfly style causes goalies breakdown earlier in their careers. I can’t see Bryzgalov playing over 400 more games as an elite goalie but if he wins the Flyers a Cup in the next 2 season then he’s worth the money.

7. Brad Richards (NY Rangers)

Well Richards is your typical long term contract but front-loaded enough to make him the highest paid NHLer for the coming season. It is a 9-year contract for $60 million but the last 3 seasons he makes $1 million per season so it really is a 6-year contract for $57 million. Overpaid? But Glen Sather makes it a habit of getting stuck with bad contracts (Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Wade Redden). Richards has had some very good years and a few mediocre ones as well. If he breaks down too soon before his 37th birthday you can add another bad contract to Sather’s legacy. Of course Sather is counting on Richards being the next Mark Recchi.

6. Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay)

Lecavalier is on season 3 of an 11-year contract and will be collecting $10 million per season until his 36th birthday. He was an elite player but hasn’t scored at a point per game pace in 4 seasons. He had a career high 52 goals in 2006-07 but is only good for 25 now. There has been a steady stream of trade rumours involving Vinnie but that contract will be hard to move.

5. Roberto Luongo (Vancouver)

Luongo is 32 and in just season 2 of a 12-year contract. Who hasn’t noticed that Luongo’s performance has been up and down throughout his career. He is clearly not the best goalie in the league . The problem here is not the annual salary as much as the term of the contract. This is another contract that would be tough to move.

4. Ilya Kovalchuk (New Jersey)

The Devil’s owner totally lost his mind last summer when he signed Kovalchuk to a 15-year contract. An extremely gifted scorer but not too many players are scoring 40 goals when they reach the age of 35 – a year Kovalchuk will still be collecting $10 million in pay.

3. Marc Savard (Boston)

In 2009 the Bruins signed Savard to a 7-year extension and just 4 months later Matt Cooke’s cheap shot to the head has pretty much put Savard’s career in jeopardy. This contract and Rick Di’Pietro’s illustrate the risk of signing players to lengthy contracts. One day they are healthy and the next day they can be washed up. There are only 3 big salary-years remaining on the contract but even if his career continues I don’t see him returning to play at his previous level.

2. Wade Redden (NY Rangers)

This could be the worst contract handed out by Glen Sather. Redden is entering season 3 of a 6-year, $39 million contract but played all last season in the AHL. Fortunately the Rangers can afford to bury $23 million in the minors. A true waste both in terms of money and talent. Redden can still play in the NHL but it won’t happen with that contract.

1. Rick DiPietro (NY Islanders)

Islander owner Charles Wang is the King of Bad Contracts. He is still paying Alexi Yashin who hasn’t been in the NHL in 4 years. But his deal with DiPietro takes the cake. DiPietro is entering season 6 of a 15-year deal. The problem is DiPietro has only played 39 games over the past 3 seasons. His hips are a mess and I can’t see him playing for 10 more seasons. For every Tim Thomas playing into his late 30’s there are 100 goalies who are washed up before their 30th birthday. A cautionary note here, one not picked up in Vancouver and Philadelphia.

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