Good contracts can help a team save money, and spend elsewhere, making them a much better and more dangerous team, while bad contracts can do the exact opposite, making teams have to save money elsewhere. Today I will be looking at the 10 worst NHL contracts. I am trying to take into account length left on the contract. So contracts that only have a year left got excluded, because it’s very likely it won’t hurt the team too much. I also decided to leave off contract extensions that haven’t kicked in yet. This was to make things easier. So guys like Price, and Jones didn’t make the list. If you missed it, I looked at the 10 best contracts here. Now let’s look at the worst contracts of the NHL!
(Not So) Honorable Mentions:
To be perfectly honest the guys on this list are very close. The guys in 3rd could easily be put in 8th, and other way around. Here are a few that are still poor, but just missed the cut. Ryan Suter and Cal Clutterbuck. These are two of the worst deals, and for somewhat different reasons. The Suter one is here because of the length and age of Suter. Suter is 32 and still has 7 years left at $7.5 million. Paying 39 year old Suter 7.5 is not ideal. He’s a solid player currently, but that is going to sting in the future. As for Clutterbuck, the Islanders are currently paying a 4th liner $3.5 million for 4 more years. It isn’t a crippling contract. However, it shows why you shouldn’t give your depth guys lots of term, and money on top of that.
10. Milan Lucic, $6 million, 5 Years remaining:
This is one of those deals that everyone knew was going to be bad by the end. It can be described as fine for now. However, Milan Lucic is 29 years old. Already starting to show signs of decline, Lucic hasn’t been the force that Edmonton was hoping for. He has been better this year, but had a miserable 5v5 season last year, with just 19 primary 5v5 points. This was in over 1100 minutes of play. Good for about 1P/60. Lucic and the Oilers need him to be better than that for this contract to even look somewhat OK. I would be shocked if we don’t look at this in 3-4 years and think of it as one of the worst in the league.
9. Dustin Brown, $5.9 million, 4 Years remaining:
Dustin Brown is one of those contracts that you look at and wonder “Why was this even signed?” Brown is in the middle of an 8 year deal, and since signing it he has only scored 30 points once. Brown is having a revival season so far. He is already at 29 points through 39 games, which is as much or more points than he has scored in 4 of his last 5 seasons. He is on pace for a career year (61 points). However, most players don’t suddenly get better at age 33. This season is more likely a fluke than anything. I don’t think LA Kings fans are complaining though. He still has 4 more years at almost 6 million dollars. If he goes back to producing like the previous 4 years this deal is going to be a rough one to finish.
8. Marc Staal, $5.7 million, 3 Years remaining:
Marc Staal could be higher up on this list, however, him only having 3 years helps. $5.7 million is still a lot to pay a player who isn’t very good. He is roughly a 3rd pairing Dman, and not even a great one at that. Staal gets tough minutes, but really doesn’t play well in those minutes. Constantly around 45CF% I find it hard to believe there’s not better options out there for the Rangers. The good news is this contract only has 3 more years, and is honestly probably tradable in a year or two. If you find a team to dump this on it may cost you a good prospect or pick. However, it may be worth it. This is a rough contract, and easily one most Rangers fans dislike.
7. Justin Abdelkader, $4.25 million, 5 Years remaining:
This contract is one that is on here because of the term left. Justin Abdelkader is a 3rd line winger who is still under contract for 5 more years. It doesn’t help that he also is being paid like at least a 2nd liner on top of all this, or that he is already 30, which means he probably will keep declining. With just 40 points in his last 101 games, Abdelkader’s contract looks worse and worse every day. He is actually a decent player in his own end. However, the price for this is not worth it, and will only look worse in 3-4 years.
6. Bobby Ryan, $7.25 million, 4 Years remaining:
Maybe I am just being a homer here. This is one of the few contracts on this list I can actually understand why it was signed. When this contract was signed he had four 30 goal seasons, and four 50+ point season under his belt. One of those was 71 points. Looking back this it becomes obvious playing with an elite centre such as Ryan Getzlaf helped this out. Since signing this deal though, Ryan has had two 50 point seasons, and a 25 point season. This year he is on pace for 41 points. This is nowhere near enough production to be paying 7+. Ryan has been on the unfortunate end of injuries which have set him back lately. This contract is going to be bad going forward. This is tough because so often Ryan shows flashes of the player he could have been. Like in last years playoff run. Just to have an injury or go back to the normal 40 point pace Sens fans just kind of expect.
5. Zach Parise, $7.5 million, 7 Years remaining:
Zach Parise has 1st line scoring ability with replacement level defensive ability. He’s a very solid player, and for this year I would take him at 7.5. The problem with this contract, and the reason it is up at 5 is the length. Much like Suter, Parise has 7 years left, and is already 33. The Wild are going to be paying a 40 year old Parise 7.5 million. The reason I have Suter lower is because I think he is better. However, Minnesota is going to be in some deep trouble down the road when these guys make 15 million combined in their late 30’s.
4. Karl Alzner, $4.6 million, 4 Years remaining:
Another contract that most people knew was terrible when it was signed. Karl Alzner just isn’t the defender the Habs thought he was. His shot shares this season are just above 50. This is a good sign, but also probably more of a telling tale of Julien’s system. Alzner had 2 years in a row under 50CF%, and just isn’t very quick on his feet. Most Habs fans will tell you this, and when you watch it is very easy to see what is wrong with his game. This is one of those contracts that for a team who is about to pay their goalie 10.5 million, should probably be staying away from.
3. Danny DeKeyser, $5 million, 4 Years remaining:
Danny DeKeyser is another loyalty contract that is very overpaid. DeKeyser is roughly a 3rd pairing defensemen who is owed 20 million over 4 years. These are the types of contracts NHL teams need to stay away from if they wish to be competitive. DeKeyser is often near the bottom in terms of CF% for Red Wings Dmen. He has also only cracked 30 points once. He has a mere 34 points in his last 181 games, which is pathetic considering he is no stud defensively. DeKeyser is only 27 so there is hope that he doesn’t get much worse while under contract. However, even where he is now makes his deal one of the worst in the NHL.
2. Dion Phaneuf, $7 million, 3 Years remaining:
This contract was going to be lower on the list because of the length. However, 7 million is just way too much to be paying a guy who should probably be a 3rd pairing defensemen. Dion Phaneuf still has a booming shot, but isn’t needed on Ottawa’s PP, as they already have Karlsson and Chabot. His defensive game is abysmal, and he is so slow he is often burned in the neutral zone. His foot speed seems worse and worse each game. This is something that should be very worrying for Sens fans, as he is still on the books for 21 million for 3 more years.
1. Brent Seabrook, $6.9 million, 6 Years remaining:
I mean, yeah. This had to be #1. Another loyalty deal, the Blackhawks gave Brent Seabrook an 8 year, 55 million dollar deal. This only kicked in last year. With that kind of money you would assume you are getting a legit top pair defender right? Well, apparently not. Seabrook has been one of, if not the worst actual defensemen the past 3 years, as seen below on his Hero Chart.
His offense is at least still a thing, but when you are that bad in your own end it is questionable whether you should be in the NHL, let alone making nearly 7 million dollars. To make things worse, he is already 32 and is probably just going to get worse and worse. This deal is going to look SO bad by the end of it. Along with Toews and Kane making a combined 21 million until they are 100, the Hawks haven’t even began to feel what cap hell feels like. I’m not even going to guess what kind of player Seabrook will be in 6 years, but if it follows normal age curves it won’t be pretty. It will be even less pretty when he’s making 7 million dollars. This is what makes it a pretty easy to call it the worst contract in the NHL.
That’s my list! This was a tough one to make. Most the guys on here are movable throughout the list. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Where would you put everyone? Let me know here, or on Twitter @NHLSensandStuff.
Written by Alex Metzger and republished with permission from The 4th Line Podcast.
Main Image: DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 5: Daniel Winnik #26 of the Minnesota Wild is defended by Danny DeKeyser #65 of the Detroit Red Wings as he drives on goalie Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings during the first period at Little Caesars Arena on October 5, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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