It’s not every day that NHL players win the Stanley Cup and immediately hit the free agent market. If you want to build a list of the 10 worst contracts signed in the months following a Stanley Cup win (in the salary cap era), there are limited options to choose from. That being said, it wasn’t all that difficult to build a worst contracts list from that database. Please note that players who had a new contract kick in after winning a Cup, but signed the extension prior to winning the Championship, are excluded. Otherwise the current Toews deal would be here.
1) Marian Gaborik, LA, June 26 2014, 7 years $34M: Signed by Dean Lombardi. It’s an enormous risk signing a 32-year-old player to a 7-year contract, especially one with an injury history. Gaborik’s production has plummeted since winning this Cup in 2014. Now he’s 35, scored 10 goals last season, and has 3.5 years remaining. That’s not good folks.
2) Dustin Penner, Edmonton, Aug 2 2007, 5 years $21.3M: Signed by Kevin Lowe. Brian Burke would be enormously satisfied to see this contract on this list. It was not included on Edmonton’s worst contract list, since he did win a Cup in year five, albeit with LA. However, within the scope of bad contracts signed soon after winning a Cup, he belongs here.
3) Tomas Kaberle, Carolina, July 5 2011, 3 years $12.75M: Signed by Jim Rutherford. The Boston Bruins did not win the Cup because of Kaberle, they won despite Kaberle. In year one he declined from 47 PTS to 31 PTS at age 33. He was dealt to Montreal where he did not play well. He was bought out after year two. His next contract was in Czechoslovakia. Buyer beware on multi-year contracts for over-30 defensemen.
4) Matt Greene, LA, June 26 2014, 4 years $10M: Signed by Dean Lombardi. Greene had just won his 2nd Stanley Cup with the team a few weeks earlier at age 31. His play soon declined, he ran into injury problems and LA bought out the contract in 2017. He retired after the buyout.
5) Nick Bonino, Nashville, July 1 2017, 4 years $16.4M: Signed by David Poile. We are talking about a guy who scored 25 playoff PTS over 2 Stanley Cup winning seasons. Obviously, he does something good. He has started this contract with 2 PTS in 6 GP and will play the last 3 seasons over the age of 30. That’s a bit pricey for a 3rd line center who may only chip in 30 or so PTS per year.
6) Frantisek Kaberle, Carolina, June 27 2006, 4 years $8.8M: Signed by Jim Rutherford. He was valuable in Carolina’s run to the Cup at age 31, and immediately got worse after signing this new deal. He dropped down to 15 minutes of ice per game in year one. After scoring 8 PTS in 30 GP in year three at age 34 Frankenstein was bought out. His next contract would be back in Czechoslovakia.
7) Willie Mitchell, Florida, July 1 2014, 2 years $8.5M: Signed by Dale Tallon. In year one at age 37 his point production dropped to single digits. They signed Mitchell a few days after drafting Aaron Ekblad, so the rationale was probably to pay Willie a premium to come in and mentor their prized rookie. But at this point in his career he probably should have retired.
8) Ben Lovejoy, New Jersey, July 1 2016, 3 years $8M: Signed by Ray Shero. Once again, beware multi-year contracts on defensemen over the age of 30. Year one at age 32 did not go particularly well. He played 450 more regular season minutes than his Cup winning year and scored 3 fewer points. His Corsi even dropped down to 43%. He’s always been a competent 3rd pairing defensemen. Asking him to be a 2nd pairing D-man is a bit too much.
9) Antoine Vermette, Phoenix, July 1 2015, 2 years $7.5M: Signed by Don Maloney. The Coyotes bought out this contract after just one season at age 33, and this coming from a team that’s millions of dollars in debt and bleeding money on life support. How bad do you have to be for a team with no money to pay you to leave? The old GM had been fired and John Chayka bought out this contract 3 months after taking the job. Must have had a bad Corsi or something…
10) David Rundblad, Chicago, June 29 2015, 2 years $2M: Signed by Stan Bowman. He played 9 games scoring 2 PTS before “this contract was terminated” at age 24. He has not played any NHL games since.