Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Washington Capitals 15 Best/Worst Contracts of Salary Cap Era


What are the Washington Capitals 15 best and 15 worst non-entry level contracts they have signed since the NHL had a salary cap? Preference is given to contracts that win Stanley Cups. Anyone who hoists the trophy is automatically disqualified from the worst contracts list, like Brooks Orpik and TJ Oshie. They made the Caps shit list last year but have been dropped in light of their championship.


1- Alex Ovechkin, Jan 10, 2008, 13 years $124M: Signed by George McPhee. He won a Stanley Cup, playoff MVP, 2 Hart Trophies (on this deal), the Rocket Richard Trophy 5 times (on this deal), and will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Even if he had a few seasons where he made too much money for his production, this is still a win. Ovie has already scored 400+ goals over its span. As the salary cap has gone up, the AAV has become more reasonable. He’ll go down as one of the greatest goal scorers in NHL history. 

2- John Carlson, Sep 15 2012, 6 years $23.8M: Signed by George McPhee. They overpaid in years one and two, but since then he’s been a bargain reaching 68 PTS in year six, capping it with a Stanley Cup. Given that he’s been playing at a discount for a few years (like Kyle Turris) he will likely demand a significant pay raise this summer. 

3- Evgeny Kuznetsov, July 2 2017, 8 years $62.4M: Signed by Brian MacLellan. This did seem a bit pricey when it was signed, then he scored 31 PTS in the playoffs on the way to winning the Stanley Cup, and probably should have been playoff MVP.

4- Nicklas Backstrom, May 17 2010, 10 years $67M: Signed by George McPhee. This one was a bit pricey when he was 22 years old, but since the cap has grown he has become a bargain. He’s scored 541 PTS in 569 GP. He’ll be over 30 when he signs his next contract, and that’s when I would say buyer beware.

5- Evgeny Kuznetsov, July 6 2015, 2 years $6M: Signed by Brian MacLellan. This was a great bridge deal for Washington and produced 136 PTS in 164 GP. The Bird man will get substantially more expensive on his next contract, but it paid off with a championship.

6- Braden Holtby, July 24 2015, 5 years $30.5M: Signed by Brian MacLellan. Holtby had some shaky performances in past playoff years, and now he’s a Stanley Cup champion. He also won the Vezina Trophy in 2016. That’s a win even if there’s a few low moments, like losing his starting job earlier in the Cup winning season.

7- Tom Wilson, June 30 2016, 2 years $4M: Signed by Brian MacLellan. Whatever you want to say about Tom Wilson (and I’ve compared him to Portman from the Mighty Ducks movies), he scored 15 playoff PTS and hoisted the Stanley Cup.

8- Brooks Laich, July 9 2008, 3 years $6.2M: Signed by George McPhee. They got 162 PTS and 614 shots in 242 GP for a very cheap price. Scroll down to the worst contracts list to see his next deal.

9- Devante Smith-Pelly, July 3 2017, 1 year $650K: Signed by George McPhee. He played a very important role in Washington’s playoff run, scoring 7 Goals along the way. He has earned himself a pay raise.

10- Troy Brouwer, Sep 12 2012, 3 years $11M: Signed by George McPhee. He scored 125 PTS in 246 GP, including 616 hits and 45 power play PTS. He turned 31 on his next contract, which is starting to look bad for the Flames.

11- Mike Green, July 1st 2008, 4 years $21M: Signed by George McPhee. In 224 GP Green scored 180 PTS from the blueline, averaging nearly 25 minutes per game of ice time. He led all NHL defensemen in scoring over the first two seasons of this contract by a wide margin with 149 (Dan Boyle was second with 115), then ran into injury trouble over the last 2 years.

12- Matt Niskanen, July 1st 2014, 7 years $40.2M: Signed by Brian MacLellan. Over the first 310 GP on this contract he has scored 131 PTS in the regular season, and was 2nd on the team in playoff ice time for a Stanley Cup win (adding 9 PTS).

13- Tomas Fleishmann, Feb 13 2008, 2 years $1.5M: Signed by George McPhee. They got 88 PTS from this contract, which is a bargain price even after accounting for cap inflation. He had 23 goals, 51 PTS in 69 games in year two for under $1M AAV.

14- Dainius Zubrus, Aug 18 2005, 2 years $3.7M: Signed by George McPhee. Another veteran squeezed into a team friendly deal coming out of the lockout. He scored 117 PTS, which is still a bargain after adjusting for cap inflation.

15- Alex Semin, Apr 11 2006, 2 years $2.6M: Signed by George McPhee. That's a great price for 140 GP and 115 PTS.


1- Michael Nylander, July 2 2007, 4 years $19.5M: Signed by George McPhee. He dropped to 33 PTS in 72 GP by year two and by year three was demoted to the AHL where he would finish this contract. Never played NHL games again.

2- Brooks Laich, June 28 2011, 6 years $27M: Signed by George McPhee. He was effective in year one with 41 PTS, he missed most of the lockout shortened season with a groin injury, in year three he turned 30, and by year five he was playing exclusively in the AHL. That’s how it goes sometimes.

3- Tom Wilson, July 27 2018, 6 years $31M: Signed by Signed by Brian MacLellan. This contract was immediately added to the Capitals worst contracts list the day it was signed. He has every chance to prove me wrong, but I think this is a terrible idea. This reminds me of the David Clarkson contract in Toronto, except that Wilson is much younger and a restricted free agent. The list of players who got nearly this much money or term with similar stats is very small. 

4- Olaf Kolzig, Feb 11 2006, 2 years $10.9M: Signed by George McPhee. When you adjust for cap inflation, that AAV is closer to a $9M, and that’s an expensive price to pay for a 2.95 GAA and .902 SV%. This was his last NHL contract.

5- Tom Poti, July 1 2007, 4 years $14M: Signed by George McPhee. He was 30 years old when he signed this contract and immediately experienced a large decline in point production, which is tough when he’s expected to be a point producer. When accounting for cap inflation, that AAV is closer to $5M.

6- Chris Clark, June 28 2007, 3 years $7.9M: Signed by George McPhee. Clark played 159 games, scoring 41 PTS over 3 seasons (that dollar figure translates to $11.5M when adjusting for cap inflation). You expect more production that that, for that kind of cash.

7- Jeff Schultz, July 7 2010, 4 years $11M: Signed by George McPhee. He scored 23 PTS the season before signing this contract then never approached that point total again, eventually being bought out in year three.

8- Brian Pothier, July 1 2006, 4 years $10M: Signed by George McPhee. That AAV is closer to $4M when adjusting for cap inflation. He was decent for the first year of this contract when he averaged 24m per game of ice time, but his production and playing time plummeted after that.

9- Jose Theodore, July 1st 2008, 2 years $9M: Signed by George McPhee. I have to imagine if you asked Capitals fans to recount the Jose Theodore years in Washington, you would not get a pleasant response. His regular seasons were slightly below average, and he started 3 playoff games letting in 11 goals (zero playoff wins). When you account for cap inflation, that AAV is closer to $6M.

10- Roman Hamrlik, July 1st 2011, 2 years $7M: Signed by George McPhee. A multi year contract to a 37-year-old defenseman is a huge risk. He scored 34 PTS the season before signing it, then in year one dropped to 13 PTS, year two he had just 1 point in 16 games.

11- Jeff Friesen, Sep 21 2005, 1 year $2.3M: Signed by George McPhee. 51 GP, 11 PTS, and -18. He played one more season in the NHL at a reduced price with comparable production.

12- Alex Semin, Jan 27 2011, 1 year $6.7M: Signed by George McPhee. Semin saw a reduction in goal scoring and ice time on this contract. He signed another one-year deal after this, failing again to secure a long-term contract.

13- John Erskine, Feb 24 2013, 2 years $3.9M: Signed by George McPhee. Yes, a neck injury did end his career before this contract expired, but it was still too much money to give a big slow defenseman with little offensive upside.

14- Eric Fehr, July 8 2010, 2 years $4.4M: Signed by George McPhee. In year two he had 35 GP, 3 PTS, averaging just under 10 minutes per game of ice.

15- Brooks Orpik, July 1 2014, 5 years $27.5M: Signed by Brian MacLellan. This contract is a tough one. One one hand, it helped win a Stanley Cup, which should automatically exclude it from the worst list, but it was also bought out after winning the Cup, which is supposed to guarantee inclusion. They won, but it was bad enough to buy out, so here we are.

Honorable Mention:

*- Tom Poti, Sep 21 2010, 2 years $5.8M: Signed by George McPhee. He only played 16 games scoring 2 PTS and this was the end of his NHL career. Poti was already washed up when this contract was signed, which does make it a bit confusing on the logic scale.

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