What have been the 10 best and 10 worst non-entry level contracts given out to tall players (at least 6'5) in the salary cap era? Yes 6’4 is also “tall”, but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere. This was originally planned to be just players >= 6’6, but the sample size was too limited. When Brian Boyle made the Best Contracts list twice, I knew it was time to expand the parameters.
1- Victor Hedman, Tampa 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- Zdeno Chara, Boston July 2 2006, 5 years 37.5M: Signed by Peter Chiarelli. This contract produced a Norris trophy and a Stanley Cup for Boston. Bingo.
3- Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg July 26 2013, 6 years $33.6M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. Through 4 years Wheeler has not scored less than 61 PTS and reached as high as 78. Solid numbers for under $6M AAV.
4- Chris Pronger, Edmonton Aug 3 2005, 5 years $31.2M: Signed by Kevin Lowe. This is a great “what if” question for Oilers fans, what if Chris Pronger had played out the remaining term on his contract in Edmonton? He won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim on this contract.
5- Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Feb 11 2011, 5 years $26M: This was a huge signing for Winnipeg Jets GM Rick Dudley. He scored 53 PTS the season before signing this contract and hovered around that range for the duration.
6- Brent Burns, San Jose Aug 1 2011, 5 years $28.8M: In the first 2 seasons of this contract he had 68 PTS in 99 GP. By the last year he had 76 PTS in 82 GP and was in the conversation for league MVP. Also played a big role in their run to the Stanley Cup final.
7- Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg July 15 2011, 2 years $5.1M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. He scored 105 PTS for $5.1M. That’s a win. He got his AAV more than doubled on his next contract.
8- Dougie Hamilton, Calgary Jun 30 2015, 6 years $34.5M: Signed by Brad Treliving. By year two he had 50 PTS and 222 shots, which any GM would love to have for under $6M AAV. Those trade rumours that Brian Burke had to refute last year were a bit ridiculous. You don’t trade assets like this….oh wait Boston did…
9- Pekka Rinne, Nashville Feb 24 2010, 2 years $6.8M: At the end of this contract Rinne became the highest paid goalie in the NHL. He had 76 wins, 40 losses, and a Vezina trophy nomination for $6.8M. He also won 11 playoff games.
10- Martin Hanzal, Phoenix Oct 8 2011, 5 years $15.5M: Signed by Don Maloney. He ran into some injury issues on this contract but still managed to produce 167 PTS in 276 GP with 657 shots, 676 hits, and 4755 face-off wins. That’s good.
Worst (ranked only by the amount of the contract)
1- Michal Handzus, LA July 2 2007, 4 years $16M: With cap inflation, this is $5.8M AAV in 2017 numbers. That’s way too much for a player who averaged 32 PTS per 82 GP over its span.
2- Derian Hatcher, Philly Aug 1st 2005, 4 years $14M: Signed by Bobby Clarke. Signed on the same day as Rathje, the Flyers really couldn’t read the tea leaves on where the NHL was going after the lockout. Hatcher never had the foot speed to play in a world without clutching and grabbing. He was a dinosaur by the time Philly signed him. Philly would eventually be saved by LTIR in year four.
3- Jared Cowen, Ottawa Sep 13 2013, 4 years $12.4M: Signed by Brian Murray. I’m not too sure how the wheels fell off this bus, but his career was looking promising before it started to nose dive in 2015. He was eventually dumped on Toronto but played zero games with that team before being bought out.
4- Jeff Schultz, Washington 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.
5- Andy Sutton, Islanders Aug 10 2007, 3 years $9M: A 3-year contract for a 32-year-old big slow defenseman will often turn out badly. That AAV is closer to $4.4M after adjusting for cap inflation.
6- Jimmy Hayes, Boston July 6 2015, 3 years $6.9M: Signed by Don Sweeney. I don’t think the Bruins expected 5 PTS in 58 GP in year two of the contract.
7- Darryl Boogaard, Rangers July 1 2010, 4 years $6.5M: Signed by Glen Sather. I’m not including this contract simply because he passed away, it still would have been a terrible contract had he lived to its end. This is the largest contract you’ll see for a one-dimensional fighter. Ryan Reaves is currently finishing off a 4 year $4.5M deal but is arguably a far better hockey player than the Boogeyman (who never even had more than 82 hits in a season). Boogeyman is in the conversation for worst all around hockey players in league history. He was never even voted MVP of the all-star game.
8- Andy Sutton, Anaheim Aug 2. 2010, 2 years $4.2M: Maybe it wasn’t smart to pass out this kind of money to a 35-year-old with limited offensive upside. He played 91 GP and scored 14 PTS.
9- Hall Gill, Nashville June 28 2012, 2 years $4M: He played 32 games with 0 PTS while only averaging 13min per game of ice time. It’s not a good idea to pay your 7th defenseman this much money, hence why he was bought out after 1 season. He was 6’7 at age 37. Decline was predictable.
10- Patrick Bordeleau, Colorado June 6 2013, 3 years $3M: He played the final year of this contract in the AHL. His next contract would be in England.