Updated: Jan 10, 2019
With the NHL season now well underway, and everything sort of in a lull; what better time than now to spark a debate about how bad some contracts are? In the first of two articles, I took a look at each position in the NHL and compiled my "all star" team (1 center, 1 left wing, 1 right wing, 2 defencemen) of terrible contracts. I took into account the AAV of each deal, along with the length, age, and proneness to injury/suspension of all players involved. This is what i came up with...
David Krejci (7.25 million AAV until 2020-21)
$7.25 million for a guy who hasn’t put up even 70 points since 2008-09. To top things off, Krejci has played 80 games only three times in his career, and only once in the past four seasons. The contract became a big issue for the Bruins this offseason when they were going after high profile free agent (and current Maple Leaf) John Tavares. The Bruins were in a tough spot up against the cap, and weren’t able to pull off a miracle in order to sign Tavares. On top of that, the move upset the veteran Krejci, with him going on record talking about the ways he was mistreated.
Honourable Mentions: Frans Nielsen (5.25, 2021-22), Jordan Staal (6, 2022-23), Andrew Shaw (3.9, 2021-22)
Justin Abdelkader (4.25 million AAV until 2022-23)
You wanna have a good laugh? Take a look at the Detroit Red Wings cap situation… it’s not pretty. There’s a lot of money wrapped up in guys that under perform year after year, lead by this man right here. While playing at Michigan State, Abdelkader was a stud, putting up nearly a point-per-game pace; all while still showing all sorts of grit that he still has today. Things were more of the same in the AHL, which earned him a full time spot on the roster in 2010. Since then, Abdelkader has done next to nothing on the score sheet. He tallied a career high 44 points in 2014-15, and somehow netted himself this stupid seven year, $4.25 million AAV contract. He has yet to live up to that contract since, dropping his point totals to 42, 21, and 35 respectively. Not a good look for a team headed on a collision course with the first overall pick.
Honourable Mentions: Jonathan Drouin (5.5, 2022-23), Matt Moulson (5, this season),
Leo Komarov (3, 2021-22), Andrew Ladd (5.5 2022-23)
Tom Wilson (5.166 million AAV until 2023-24)
Apparently right wingers in the NHL are notorious for bad contracts, because the list to choose from on this one was long. There’s a chance that I chose this one because of recency bias, but I really couldn’t go wrong here.
For a team that ended up so successful, boy did they ever take a huge L with this one. Don’t get me wrong, from everything I’ve heard, Tom Wilson seems like a great character guy in the dressing room… but that’s about as far as his value goes. Wilson has 104 points over his five year NHL career tallying 35 goals in the process. To put things in perspective with him, during that time, he has accumulated 29 games lost to suspension (including preseason and postseason.) That doesn’t even include the numerous times that Wilson should’ve been suspended for dirty hits throughout his career. Essentially, the Washington Capitals are throwing 5.166 million a year into the pockets of the NHL, while watching Tom Wilson sit in the press box.
Honourable Mentions: Bobby Ryan (7.25, 2021-22), Kyle Okposo (6, 2022-23), Patric Hornqvist (5.3, 2022-23)
Shea Weber (7.857 million AAV until 2025-26)
Let me just say this, I was a fan of the Subban-Weber trade at the time… but man, does it sure look terrible now. Weber has only been healthy for one season since the trade to Montreal, and is being paid a small fortune to watch hockey games. This contract wouldn’t be all that terrible if Weber could return to form; but, if Montreal has to continue to deal with half of a Weber for the next seven years, then they’re going to have a serious issue.
Nikita Zaitsev (4.5 million AAV until 2023-24)
Yeah, this is probably just frustration as a Leafs fan, but can you blame me? This contract still makes no sense, and kinda sums up everything that Lou actually did for
the on-ice product. Zaitsev had one, we’ll call it above average, season with the Toronto Maple Leafs before receiving this seven year deal. Since then, Zaitsev hasn’t even been close to living up to the hype of that deal; dealing with both injuries and the birth of his first child last season, and being fairly mediocre this year. Sure, the jury is probably still out on whether or not Zaitsev is still the player that signed this long term deal; but, for now, he isn’t even close.
Honourable Mentions: Nick Leddy (5.5, 2021-22), Matt Niskanen (5.75 until 2020-21), Johnny Boychuk (6, 2021-22), Marc Staal (5.75 until 2020-21)
Carey Price (10.5 million AAV until 2025-26)
I’m so sorry for this list Canadiens fans, but this contract is atrocious. Carey Price still has the potential to be the best goalie in the NHL on any given night, but there is zero consistency left in this man. A lot of his struggles can be traced back to multiple injuries, giving him a decent reason to struggle. But how confident can you feel in giving $10.5 million to an oft-injured goalie for the next eight years of his life? Oh, by the way, the man is already 31 years old.
Honourable Mentions: Scott Darling (4.15, 2020-21), Thomas Greiss (3.33, 2019-20)
So there you have it. Funny to see that it's not just the teams at the bottom of the league being hindered by bad contracts, but teams at the top of the league (Boston, Washington, Toronto) as well.
There was plenty of internal debate on a few of the positions, but all in all I think I covered just about everyone. Disagree? let me know in the comments below who I got wrong.