What have been the 10 worst NHL contracts in the salary cap era who were traded before they ended, and for good value. The best example should be Scott Gomez who was traded for Ryan McDonagh. These are contracts that all had at least a full season of term remaining at the time of the trade. Most of the cases where teams trade a bad contract, it is for another bad contract. It’s rare to see the bad contract for good value exchange.
1) Scott Gomez, NYR: June 2009, the Rangers somehow managed to trade Gomez (5 years remaining at $7.4M AAV at age 29) to Montreal for a package that included Chris Higgins and Ryan McDonagh. This is one of the all-time greatest head scratchers. Either they believed Gomez presented good value over $7M AAV, or they believed McDonagh would be a bust. Either way they were way wrong.
2) Cam Barker, Chi: Feb 2010, the Blackhawks traded him to Minnesota in the first year of a 3-year $9M contract at age 23 for Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy and would go on to win the Stanley Cup that season. The Wild bought out the contract before it expired, and lost Leddy in the process.
3) Rob Scuderi, Pit: Dec 2015, The Penguins traded Scuderi (1 year remaining at $3.4M AAV at age 36) to Chicago for Trevor Daley and then won two Stanley Cups. Scuderi played 17 games for the Blackhawks before being demoted to the minors.
4) James Wisniewski, Cbj: March 2015, the Blue Jackets traded the defenseman (2 years remaining at $5.5M AAV at age 30) with a 3rd round pick to Anaheim for William Karlsson and 2nd rounder. Wisniewski's NHL career only last 14 more games, while Karlsson is on his way to being a star.
5) Jason Garrison, Van: June 2014, the Canucks traded him to Tampa (4 years remaining at $4.6M AAV at age 29) for a 2nd round pick. Not the smartest move Steve Yzerman has ever made. It did not take long for Garrison's offensive production to dry up in Tampa.
6) Keith Ballard, Fla: June 2010, the Panthers managed to unload this contract (4 years remaining at $4.2M AAV at age 27) on the Canucks for Michael Grabner and a 1st round pick. Ballard was good in Florida, but started to suck shortly after arriving in Vancouver. This contract would be bought out before it expired.
7) Tuomo Ruutu, Car: March 2014, (2 years remaining at $4.8M AAV at age 30) The Hurricanes got a 3rd round pick from New Jersey. Ruutu played 139 games for the Devils and scored 22 PTS at an average annual salary of $4.8M. That's really bad value. The Canes really should have had to pay a 3rd round pick to get Jersey to eat the remaining salary.
8) RJ Umberger, Cbj: June 2014, (2 years remaining at $4.6M AAV at age 32) RJ didn't have much left in the tank when Columbus traded him to the Flyers for Scott Hartnell, who returned good value in the first few years after the trade. Umberger scored only 26 PTS over 2 seasons in Philly, while Hartnell scored 146 over 3 seasons for the Blue Jackets. Eventually the Hartnell contract went sour, but not right away. Umberger sucked almost immediately.
9) Patrick O'Sullivan, LA: March 2009, the Kings traded him to Carolina (2 years remaining at $2.9M AAV at age 23) with a 2nd round pick to get Justin Williams, who went on to win 2 Stanley Cups with Los Angeles. O'Sullivan only ever played 10 games for the Canes, scoring 1 point, before they flipped him to Edmonton for Erik Cole. The Oilers bought out the contract before it expired. That second O'Sullivan trade was also a contender for this list.
10) Jonathon Bernier, Tor: June 2013, the Leafs traded the last year of their maligned goalie's $4.2M contract to the Ducks for Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens, and a 2nd round pick that became Travis Dermott. Bernier only lasted the one season in Anaheim, putting up mediocre numbers. Dermott has been a “rookie sensation” for the Leafs.