UPDATED: JULY 2018
What are the Tampa Bay Lightning 15 best and 15 worst non- entry level contracts they have signed since the NHL had a salary cap? We have seen Steve Yzerman pull a few rabbits out of his hat since becoming General Manager, especially with RFAs. It's plausible that he uses the Florida state lack of income tax to get his players to sign for less than market value, because it means that they can keep more of their money than those on other teams earning more total money. That has to be the secret.
1- Victor Hedman, Dec 1 2011, 5 years $20M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. This has to be in the top 10 best contracts in the whole NHL under the salary cap era. He had 232 PTS in 335 GP from the blueline.
2- Nikita Kucherov, Oct 11 2016, 3 years $14.3M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. This contract is unreal for one of the league’s top goal scorers. It confused me at the time. He must not have been willing to miss games and just accepted the best offer even though he’s clearly worth much more. The average price for 30+ goal scorers coming off entry level is $5.5M AAV, and that’s not even accounting for cap inflation. Where were the offer sheets?
3- Andrei Vasilevskiy, July 1 2016, 3 years $10.5M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. He was nominated for the Vezina in year one after putting up 44 Wins with a .920 SV%. That’s a great price for a top goalie.
4- Dan Boyle, Aug 9 2005, 3 years $10M: Boyle peaked at 63 PTS on this contract and returned very good value. The Lightning where able to harness “peak Boyle” at a good price. The AAV is closer to $6M in 2017 numbers accounting for the smaller salary cap. That’s still cheap for 141 blueline PTS in 198 GP.
5- Victor Hedman, July 1 2016, 8 years $63M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. This may not be the extreme bargain of his previous contract, but Hedman did win the Norris Trophy in year one, scoring 63 PTS in 77 GP. At age 27, he would get an even bigger contract if he went UFA tomorrow.
6- Ondrej Palat, June 9 2014, 3 years $10M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. That’s a bargain for 155 PTS in 212 GP. He had 59 PTS in the last year of his entry level so this is not a case of Yzerman taking a risk. It’s a case of getting another productive RFA at a discounted price.
7- Tyler Johnson, May 26 2014, 3 years $10M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. Another player with 50+ PTS in the last year of his entry level who scored exactly 155 PTS in 212 GP. That’s strange, but Palat and Johnson both had exactly the same number of GP and PTS playing on identical contracts. What are the odds? I double checked to make sure it wasn’t a mistake.
8- Ben Bishop, April 15 2013, 2 years $4.6M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. He averaged 62 GP, 2.27 GAA and .920 SV% for under $3M AAV. He also took Tampa on a deep playoff run in year two. Tremendous value if you can find it for that cheap (good luck).
9- Teddy Purcell, July 20 2011, 2 years $4.7M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. He scored 101 PTS in 129 GP for a very modest price. He scored 51 PTS the season before signing this, so it’s not like Yzerman was taking a leap of faith. He squeezed another productive RFA into a team friendly deal. Somebody needs to write a book about Steve Yzerman called “Breaking RFAs”. I’d buy a copy of that.
10- Yanni Gourde, June 16 2017, 2 years $2M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. In year one Gourde scored 25 Goals and 64 PTS at a bargain price. If he continues to improve, Tampa will have problems fitting his next contract under the cap.
11- Vladislav Namestnikov, July 26 2016, 2 years $3.9M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. 79 PTS in 155 GP is strong value at that price point. His AAV will double on his next contract.
12- Kurtis Foster, July 8 2009, 1 year $600K: They got 42 PTS from the blueline for a bargain price. He never came close to that point total again and was out of the league 3 years later.
13- Alex Killorn, June 20 2014, 2 years $5.1M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. He scored 41 PTS in the last year of his entry level and followed that with a team friendly contract. Sound familiar? 79 PTS for $5M is a good price.
14- Filip Kuba, July 1 2006, 3 years $9M: Signed by Jay Feaster. That would be more like $5.4M AAV with a $79M cap. His point totals were 37, 31, and 40 over these 3 seasons. Not bad.
15- Anton Stralman, July 1st 2014, 5 years $22.5M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. He was very productive for the first two years but has seen his offense tail off since turning 30. They jury is still out on the remainder of this contract.
1- Vincent LeCavalier, July 13 2008, 11 years $85M: Signed by the owners and Brian Lawton. LeCavalier isn’t even in the league anymore and this contract should have time remaining. Instead it was bought out in year four. He had some trouble staying healthy after turning 30, but that shouldn’t be a surprise when giving an 11-year contract to a 29-year-old. GM Jay Feester quit two days before this contract was signed, citing that Brian Lawton and the owners were now running the team. Did he leave rather than offer LeCavalier this contract?
2- Ryan Callahan, June 25 2014, 6 years $34.8M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. He had 54 PTS in year one, 28 PTS in year two, and 4 PTS in year three. There’s still time remaining on this contract and it is a contender for my next “top 10 worst contracts in the whole league” list.
3- Matt Carle, July 4 2012, 6 years $33M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. He was a sought-after commodity that summer and settled in Tampa. It did not take long for his production to plummet. He was bought out in year four.
4- Marc Denis, July 5 2006, 3 years $8.6M: Signed by Jay Feester. His best season on this contract had a 3.19 GAA and 0.883 SV%. He finished it in the AHL before being bought out. It’s even worse considering the size of the cap in 2006. This was an awful waste of money.
5- Ryan Malone, June 30 2008, 7 years $31.5M: Signed by Jay Feester. By year four he fell down to 15 PTS in 57 GP before being bought out. It’s even worse when you adjust for the smaller salary cap in 2008. His next contract was for $700K to play mostly AHL games.
6- Matt Walker, July 1st 2009, 4 years $6.8M: Signed by Brian Lawton. I had to double check to make sure this contract wasn’t a typo at Cap Friendly. He played 66 games in year one before being traded to Philadelphia where he mostly played for their AHL affiliate. This would rank high on the list of largest contracts awarded to players that 99% of hockey fans never heard of, but behind Jeff Finger of course...
7- Anders Lindback, July 6 2012, 2 years $3.6M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. His two seasons in Tampa saw him post a 2.90 GAA and SV% below .900. That’s not worth $1.8M.
8- Mattias Ohlund, July 1 2009, 7 years $25.2: Signed by Brian Lawton. Another cautionary tale about signing a 30+ year old defenseman to a long-term contract. Injuries prevented us from seeing how shitty Ohlund could become in his late 30s, but he was still plenty bad for his short time in Tampa.
9- Erik Condra, July 1 2015, 3 years $3.7M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. He scored more PTS in the AHL than NHL. That’s too much to pay for a veteran farmhand.
10- Dwayne Roloson, June 29 2011, 1 year $3M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. Roloson helped Tampa go deep in the playoffs the year prior, playing sensational at the age of 40. But by the time he turned 41, he did not have much left, putting up a 3.66 GAA and .886 SV% in 40 GP.
11- Brian Lee, June 28 2012, 2 years $2.3M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. Did not play much for Tampa and saw time in the AHL for more than $1M AAV. That’s an automatic fail.
12- Olaf Kolzig, July 1 2008, 1 year $1.5M: Signed by Jay Feaster. The goalie only played in 8 games, with a 3.66 GAA and .898 SV%. That’s not good value.
13- Lukas Krajicek, July 1 2009, 1 year $1.5M: Signed by Jay Feaster. He scored 3 PTS in 50 NHL games and was sent down to the AHL.
14- Brad Lukowich, July 3 2007, 3 years $4.7M: Signed by Jay Feaster. Lukowich scored more PTS in the AHL than NHL.
15- Eric Brewer, June 24 2011, 4 years $15.5M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. A 4-year contract for a 32-year-old has risk. He only scored 11 PTS in 44 GP in the final year and retired.