The Win Column Power Rankings is a weekly feature that highlights the current rankings of every team during that specific week. While their place in the standings will be considered, each team’s weekly performance will have a greater effect on how high or low they end up ranking.
Black Friday was two weeks ago, and now it’s that awkward time of the season where prices start to fluctuate. Some stores may have better deals than before, while others are capitalizing on those desperate shoppers who procrastinated all year. Depending on which shopper you are, there is always some remorse in your holiday shopping decisions. The same applies to NHL General Managers, who, at this point in the season, may be looking at their roster and wondering, “how in the world is that guy making that much money?”. This week’s rankings take a look at the player(s) on each team that cause the most remorse among GMs and fans.
31. Buffalo Sabres
| 7-17-4 | SAME| Last Week 1-2-0 |
It’s pretty obvious that Matt Moulson gets the nod here. He has two years left on his deal that pays him $5M per season, and currently has registered no points. This week he was assigned to the AHL, and to make matters even worse it wasn’t even the Sabres’ affiliate. His affect on the salary cap may be somewhat buried for now, but there’s still another full season of this. Plus, will Jack Eichel live up to his $10M AAV? Time will tell on which of these hurts more next season.
30. Arizona Coyotes
| 7-19-5 | -1 | LW 1-1-1 |
Arizona rarely dishes out long term, high AAV contracts to players in free agency, but they broke that trend when they went out and signed Alex Goligoski to a 5 year $27.325M contract two summers ago. His stats this season aren’t terrible (3G 10A), but an additional three seasons in the desert at $5.475M per doesn’t scream bargain. Looking at comparable defenseman making a similar amount of money, Goligoski looks to be lagging behind.
| 12-13-2 | -4 | LW 0-4-0
In a salary dump trade this off-season, the Avalanche took on Colin Wilson and his two remaining years at ~$3.937M AAV. For a team like Colorado, this isn’t the biggest issue, but it’s still something that they wouldn’t like to have on their salary cap. With only 17GP, and five points, Wilson looks like he won’t really live up to the contract value.
28. Ottawa Senators
| 9-11-7 | SAME | LW 1-2-1
The Senators are lucky that some of their players are signed to team friendly deals at the moment. Eventually these players, like Mark Stone and Erik Karlsson, will need new contracts so more space is required. One deal that sticks out is Zack Smith‘s $13M over four seasons. Only a season removed from a 25G campaign, he seems to be a candidate for regression which could ultimately sting down the road. He has been limited to only 17 games this year, but this is the first year of his new deal and things haven’t looked outstanding.
27. Edmonton Oilers
| 11-15-2 | -1 | LW 1-1-0
Without a doubt, Milan Lucic is the only true answer here. The deal was extremely controversial when signed, and so far he has not lived up to such high standards. It’s not that he is completely useless, as he still contributes, it’s the sheer length and AAV that will hurt this team down the road. With Connor McDavid‘s massive cap hit coming into effect next season, and Leon Draisaitl‘s cap hit already running, this is money that could be allocated to fix many of the other holes in their lineup.
| 11-12-5 | +1| LW 1-1-0
It’s not a popular choice, but Henrik Zetterberg will continue to have a cap hit of $6.083M when he is 38-40 years old. Even he mentioned at the start of the season that he may not play until the end of his contract (which he then quickly backtracked from). The Red Wings captain can still play, and contribute substantially, but for a team under a tight salary cap this is a cap hit that will be detrimental to future signings.
| 11-10-6 | -2 | LW 1-2-1
The Canes have a boatload of players who have such poor cost per points (CPP) this season that are being paid a high proportion of the team’s cap. Players such as Victor Rask and Jordan Staal pale in comparison to Marcus Kruger. Acquired in another expansion draft side deal, Kruger and his $3.083M AAV have only produced just four assists in 25GP. Only one more year left on his contract though.
24. Florida Panthers
| 11-13-4 | -2 | LW 1-1-2
Florida really doesn’t have many contracts that stick out in a bad way. Aaron Ekblad‘s $7.5M AAV may seem like initially too high of a contract for a young defenseman, but you also have to bite the proverbial bullet and pay your stars. Mark Pysyk isn’t awful at $2.733M, but also not amazing. If we have to choose one, Jamie McGinn will take the honors. An additional season at $3.333M seems like a bit of over-payment. Think of it this way, that is equivalent to three Jonathan Marchessault‘s.
| 12-11-5 | -6 | LW 0-2-1
The two $10.5M dollar players in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews may have caused the majoirty of cap issues in Chicago, but not all of them. Brent Seabrook‘s new deal that kicked in last season is counting a $6.875M AAV onto the cap for the next six seasons. Still a key cog in this teams lineup, it makes it hard to imagine the Blackhawks will easily move on from him. His production offensively is decreasing and that will only get worse with age. With so many decisions for Stan Bowman to make with this team’s cap, Seabrook’s contract will be a hurdle.
22. Anaheim Ducks
| 12-11-6 | +2 | LW 1-1-2
Even though Kevin Bieksa‘s contract is up at the end of the season, look at the implications it has had. First off, a $4M AAV is ridiculously high for the services that Bieksa provides (Superman punches aside). Second, his NMC caused Anaheim numerous expansion draft headaches that caused them to eventually trade Shea Theodore. There are countless other defenseman who play the same role, being paid a fraction less. Of course, they wont have to worry about this next year at all.
21. Minnesota Wild
| 13-11-3 | +2 | 1-1-0
Who thought 13 year contracts were a good idea? Ryan Suter and Zach Parise signed identical deals in the summer of 2012 to join the Wild, and while the merits of these players are unquestionable, the lasting impacts of these deals will be felt for a while. Suter and Parise are both in their early 30’s, which would mean their deals expire when they are 39 and 40 respectively. Suter has been a strong acquisition, but Parise has missed plenty of time due to injury. It’s tough to see a player with that much potential be sidelined with constant injuries. I’m sure the Wild somewhat regret signing him to that deal.
| 11-11-7 | +9 | LW 3-1-0
It has to sting twice this season that not only is Brayden Schenn producing at an insane level, but the player that the Flyers took back in Jori Lehtera is having a dreadful season. With two assists in 17GP, Lehtera is a far cry from his $4.7M AAV. The Flyers were most likely able to receive the additional pick from St. Louis by taking on Lehtera’s contract, but what an anchor that is going to be until 2019.
| 13-13-4 | -1 | LW 1-1-1
Thank goodness the new collective bargaining agreement only allows for a maximum of eight years. Shea Weber is the team’s number one defenseman and its beyond valuable to the Canadiens, but another eight seasons after this one? Absurd. His 14-year contract, and $110M value, is going to be stretched until he is 40. He seems like the kind of player who could make it to that point in his career, but the valuation is absurd. That is like buying a car when you’re in your late twenties and assuming your car is going to be priced the exact same fourteen years down the road. While the salary aspect of his deal drops severely in the final three seasons, his cap hit will remain the same.
18. Calgary Flames
| 15-12-2 | -4 | LW 1-2-1
There is absolutely no doubt that Troy Brouwer causes Brad Treliving to lose sleep at night. Signed for two more seasons at a $4.5M AAV, he is by far the most overpaid fourth liner in the league. His play may have turned a slightly small corner the past few weeks earning his first goal since March, but the price is still inexcusable. Being an anchor both on and off the ice doesn’t bode well for his future in Calgary.
| 14-11-4 | +4 | LW 2-1-0
Remember when Loui Eriksson signed a six year $36M contract with the Canucks? Oh wait that was only last summer and there are still four years left after this season? Eriksson can still play, but not at the same level he was operating at in Boston. Jim Benning has to see this as a contract he needs to rid himself of, sometime before Brock Boeser‘s new deal.
16. San Jose Sharks
| 15-10-2 | -1 | LW 2-2-0
Jannik Hansen‘s $2.5M AAV may not seem like that big of an issue, but so far this season he has more healthy scratches than points. Plus the prospect given up in the Hansen trade last season, Nikolay Goldobin, has more goals than him as well. The acquisition cost, factored in with the uncertainty of his play, has Doug Wilson showing some signs of remorse. Not all bad purchases are directly related to the money involved.
15. Boston Bruins
| 13-9-4 | +4 | LW 2-1-0
David Backes’s deal was questionable, in both AAV and length, but Matt Beleskey‘s contract is inexcusable right now. At the time, he was coming off a breakout season where he was the relied upon scorer in Anaheim. Free agent frenzy can be a dangerous game to play. This season he has only played in 14 games, registering no points, but carries an AAV of $3.8M for the next two seasons after this one. His trade value is little to nothing, so waiving him may be the only *sensible* action.
14. New York Rangers
| 15-10-2 | +2 | LW 2-0-0
The Rangers got rid of their one true terrible contract in Dan Girardi this summer, so there isn’t a comparatively awful one to identify. Henrik Lundqvist‘s AAV is massive, but he’s the king and still the starting goalie. Marc Staal gets the nod here as so far this season he is operating at a $1.14M CPP. He also has an additional three seasons left on his deal that will have him count $5.7M towards the cap. While not as egregious as others, it’s still a deal that the Rangers may like to move on from.
13. Dallas Stars
| 16-12-1 | -3 | LW 2-2-0
Martin Hanzal gets a special nod for burning two teams in the past year. The Wild gave up a king’s ransom to acquire the centreman last season and it backfired very quickly. Dallas ended up giving him a three year contract worth $4.75M per for his services, which have also been lackluster. Jason Spezza may seem like the more obvious choice here, but Hanzal only has three points in 19GP and is currently on the IR. Plus, his remaining two years compared to Spezza’s one make it just a bit worse.
| 17-9-1 | -1 | LW 2-1-0
For an expansion drafted team in it’s first season, you would have expected there to be more terrible contracts to worry about. You could say some of the LTIR contracts taken are terrible, but they truly don’t factor into Vegas’ plans. Having to choose at least one, I guess you have to go with Cody Eakin. A $3.85M AAV for the next three seasons is more than they would like to pay for a third line centre. By no means is his contract an issue at the moment, but should a prospect or two want to make the lineup in the next three years, it would most likely be the first contract on the chopping block.
|16-11-3 | +2 | LW 3-1-0
When the Penguins acquired Carl Hagelin a few seasons ago, they expected him to provide a substantial amount of depth scoring for a team loaded with talent. Outside of the HBK line in the playoffs two seasons ago, Hagelin hasn’t fully proven he is worth his $4M AAV salary. Nowhere near something that Jim Rutherford would despise, but a contract he wish he was getting more value from.
| 16-9-3 | -6 | LW 1-2-1
Don’t talk about John Tavares. Don’t talk about John Tavares. Did you know that Johnny Boychuk is being paid $6M per season for the next four years? That can’t be too good. They could potentially use that space for something, but I can’t put my finger on it. Getting rid of Nikolay Kulemin‘s deal this season will be a welcomed relief to Islanders fans as well.
| 17-10-1 | -7 | LW 1-2-0
There is just something about this league and its overpaid third line centre role. Brandon Dubinsky, once a dominant offensive minded agitator has had his role reduced on a strong Blue Jackets team. After this season, they will still be paying his $5.85M cap hit for an additional three years, unless management has something to say about it. That is a big cap hit to swallow, and with some money already being tied up in other buyouts, it puts the team in a difficult position.
| 17-11-1 | +4| LW 3-0-0
Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik were both signed to expensive contracts that are not bargains by any means. A combined $11.25M per season is a lot to pay for two defenseman who have combined for no goals so far this year. It is smart to lock in your blueline, but that kind of money for mid pairing defensemen is above market value. With John Carlson needing a new deal soon, one of these two players will need to be moved to make room. Thankfully, Orpik is only under contract for one more season.
| 17-8-4 | -1 | LW 2-2-0
Winnipeg is extremely fortunate that their two “worst” contracts in Shawn Matthias and Toby Enstrom are both off the books at the end of the season. The one that would cause the most remorse at the minute would probably be Dmitry Kulikov. Signed this summer to a a three year $13M contract, he so far has spent a large portion of his time on the third pairing. The Jets defensive group is extremely strong at the moment, but organizational depth could have filled the role that Kulikov is filling for a much better price.
|16-7-4 | +2 | LW 2-1-0
Andy Greene has captained his team to a surprise season so far, but is not worth his $5M AAV he will be paid for the next three seasons. Topping out at 13 points his previous two campaigns, he may be able to surpass those numbers this season, but still, his production is dwindling. It’s never a fun situation to single out a team captain and a bad contract, but that is the nature of this list. With the Devils having the fifth most cap space in the league, they have the luxury to be able to pay the remainder of the deal with limited consequences.
| 18-10-1 | SAME | LW 1-1-0
At the moment, the Leafs are in the honeymoon phase of contract situations. The ELC’s will soon expire, and married life will begin for the management team. This team will look drastically different in a few seasons depending on what the young stars will make, so that is why Patrick Marleau‘s three year $18.75M contract will look bad in two years. He has been essential to the team’s cohesion both on and off the ice, but there may not be enough cap space to keep other players if his deal is still active in two years. These next two seasons of Marleau will be a blessing for Toronto, but that final year will be interesting to watch with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner needing new deals.
| 19-8-2 | -1 | LW 2-1-1
St. Louis by far has some of the best team-friendly deals in the league. Vladimir Tarasenko is the only player who is being paid as much as he should be at the moment. Smart moves by Doug Armstrong has made a decision difficult, but the length of Patrik Berglund‘s deal could be concerning. This is of course cherry picking because of how impressive the team’s cap structure looks for the next few seasons.
| 18-7-3 | +4 | LW 3-0-0
Nashville is an interesting team contract wise. They have done a good job of moving on from bad deals (cc. Weber and Wilson), but also have some big contracts still remaining. Ironically, they are getting the best value from their underpaid bargain wingers, while the stars haven’t been producing at their normal levels. Choosing a single contract from this team, Nick Bonino‘s newly signed deal seems to cause some worry. He has missed time with injury, but with the recently signed Kyle Turris now occupying the #2 centreman role, he seems a bit overpaid and expendable.
| 19-8-3 | +7| LW 4-0-0
The Kings have a magical well full of terrible looking contracts. Take your pick: Marion Gaborik, Dustin Brown, Alec Martinez. Even Anze Kopitar‘s $10M AAV seemed like a bit of a disaster last season. That being said, the Kings aren’t under any drastic salary cap issues and are currently operating the best streak in the league at the moment. These bad contracts will eventually need to be dealt with, but if they are producing at the level needed then Rob Blake can’t be too concerned.
| 20-6-2 | SAME | LW 3-0-0
Ryan Callahan has been plagued by injuries ever since his arrival in Tampa Bay. Acquired in the Martin St. Louis deal, Callahan has never really been the impact player that Tampa wanted. He’s a big part of the leadership group, but a $5.8M AAV on a cap-strapped team is cause for concern. With only two years remaining after this season, it’s not as disastrous as other deals, but there are plenty of free agents that need new deals and Callahan appears to be the odd man out.
What are your thoughts? Disagree? Who else are you thankful for? Sound off in the comments below.
Salary Figures from CapFriendly