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 second of two articles, I took a look at each position in the Western Conference 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...
Sam Gagner (3.15 million AAV until 2019-20)
Gagner may not have the worst cap hit among centremen, but where this contract goes bad is his current role with the Vancouver Canucks. At the beginning of this season, the Canucks decided that they had no spot for the aging centre, sending him not to their own AHL team, but to the Toronto Marlies (the Maple Leafs AHL team.) This move worked out for the Canucks early on, but $3 million spent on someone else minor leaguer for any period of time has to sting.
Honourable Mentions: Leon Draisaitl (8.5, 2024-25), Derek Stepan (6.5, 2020-21), Bryan Little (5.29, 2023-24),
Milan Lucic (6 million AAV until 2022-23)
This is a toss up for me between two guys on very similar deals. Brandon Saad, who’s been gaining a lot of negative attention after the Artemi Panarin trade, also has a $6 million cap hit for the Chicago Blackhawks and is tanking hard. The point that sets Lucic out is the term of his contract. For a guy locked in for the next five seasons at that cap hit, you would hope for at least some above average production. That hasn’t been the case with Lucic, who’s output has steadily declined since arriving in Edmonton, especially when not paired up with Conor McDavid. The lack of production, coupled with the length of term, gives him the nod at left wing
Honourable Mentions: Brandon Saad (6, 2020-21), Antoine Roussel (3, 2021-22), James Neal (5.75, 2022-23)
Corey Perry (8.625 million AAV until 2020-21)
I know Corey Perry is hurt, so his production this season can’t be tracked… but boy was he terrible last year. Perry put up a measly 49 points last season, only five points better than his career 82 game low. While he only managed to get into 71 games last year, Perry was not very effective when he was on the ice. This was demonstrated on a global scale when the Ducks found themselves in a playoff spot. Perry failed to get on the scoresheet in the four game sweep at the hands of the San Jose Sharks.
You might be able to live with those numbers from a middle of the cap player, but Corey Perry is definitely not that. Among right wingers in all of the NHL, Corey Perry has the second highest cap hit. Basically, he’s being paid like a superstar, to play like a fourth line grinder. Top that off with a serious injury this year, and Anaheim is in a real tough spot.
Honourable Mentions: Ilya Kovalchuk (6.25, 2020-21), Loui Eriksson (6, 2021-22), Michael
Frolik (4.3, 2019-20)
Dion Phaneuf (7 million AAV until 2020-21)
Did the Leafs pull off a miracle here or what? The fact that they aren’t retaining anything on Phaneuf’s nightmare of a deal is absolutely incredible. Phaneuf is now doing next to nothing out in Los Angeles, and being paid more than Drew Doughty to do it. The fact that he is in the top 10 highest cap hits this season is incredible given his serious decline in output. Phaneuf just recorded his first point of the year against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 17th game of the year.
Connor Murphy (3.85 million AAV until 2021-22)
In one of the biggest "who dat" moments of the article, Connor Murphy makes the Blackhawks look really bad with this contract. Murphy hasn't played a game of his sixth NHL season this year to do a back injury, but that isn't the reason his contract is terrible. A career -33 player, Murphy has only scored 63 points through the first 334 games of his NHL career. Those numbers aren't terrible out of the third or fourth defenceman on the roster, but he is being paid like a two or three guy for the next three seasons.
Honourable Mentions: Marc Methot (4.9, This Season), Eric Gudbranson (4, 2020-21), Erik Johnson (6, 2022-23)
Ben Bishop (4.916 million AAV until 2022-23)
Remember when Ben Bishop was one of the best goalies in the NHL? Well we’re a far cry away from those days. The 31 year old has a .915 save percentage to follow a .916 last year, and hasn’t helped out the Dallas Stars defensive woes at all. In a position where most western conference teams have done a decent job in paying their goalies, the Stars may have pulled out the worst deal of them all.
Honourable Mentions: Mike Smith (5.66, This Season), Cam Ward (3, This Season)