Last week we presented our 2016 All UFA Bargain team, highlighted by Jonathan Marchessault and Chad Johnson, each of whom has provided results well in excess of any expectations based on the contracts they signed this summer. Of course for every free agent bargain in the NHL there is likely at least one free agent signing that will rate as a bust. Strangely enough, only a handful of UFA blue liners inked multiyear pacts this summer with two of the biggest names, Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski, traded by their previous employers before agreeing to lucrative deals prior to reaching unrestricted free agency. Subsequently, finding two defensemen who have severely under-performed their new contracts was not as easy as expected.
Without further ado, here is Pro Hockey Rumors 2016 All UFA Bust Team.
Andrew Ladd (New York Islanders) – Seven years, $38.5MM: The Islanders, needing to replace the scoring tough of Kyle Okposo, reached a lucrative agreement July 1st with veteran left wing Andrew Ladd. It was expected that in addition to 25-goal, 50-point production, Ladd would also add leadership to a relatively young squad. But Ladd has just five points in 23 contests with his new club and has struggled despite seeing a lot of early-season ice time with John Tavares.
Many were critical of the Ladd contract, primarily due to the seven-year term. Ladd, soon to turn 31, already has nearly 800 regular season games under his belt and likely won’t remain productive into his mid-to-late-30’s. However it was at least expected that Ladd would maintain his 20-goal plus production through the first half of his deal.
Mikkel Boedker (San Jose Sharks) – Four years, $16MM: After falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final last June, the San Jose Sharks decided they needed to add some speed to help keep up against the league’s quicker clubs. Enter Boedker, who had tied his career-high in points, tallying 51 while splitting the 2015-16 campaign between Arizona and Colorado. Boedker was supposed to help allow the Sharks to ice four quality lines with skill and add some more speed to the lineup. Unfortunately the production – two goals and four points – simply doesn’t measure up to the lofty contract he received.
Dale Weise (Philadelphia Flyers) – Four years, $9.4MM: Weise parlayed an excellent platform season – 14 goals, 27 points – into a nice, multiyear deal with the Flyers this summer despite his late-season struggles following a trade from Montreal to Chicago. The physical winger tallied just one assist in 15 games with the Blackhawks down the stretch. Yet the AAV of $2.35MM is in line with Weise’s full-season production in both 2014-15 and 2015-16. The problem is, Weise has just two goals and four points in 22 game so far on the campaign and that’s not nearly enough to justify his contract.
Dan Hamhuis (Dallas Stars) – Two years, $7.5MM: The Stars pursued Hamhuis at last season’s trade deadline but the veteran defender elected to exercise his NTC to block a proposed deal to Dallas as he didn’t want to uproot his family at that time. After losing Kris Russell, Jason Demers and Alex Goligoski from last year’s blue line, it seemed only natural that the Stars would turn again to Hamhuis for help. The 13-year-vet has long been a steady performer and the two-year term is reasonable, but he has just five points in 24 games and has been a healthy scratch at times this season. Surely the Stars expected a little more from their investment.
Jason Demers (Florida Panthers) – Five years, $22.5MM: It’s not that Demers is having a terrible year as he is on pace for around 10 goals and 29 points. But Florida remade their blue line in the offseason, moving on from tough, physical defenders Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov in favor of better puck movers like Demers. To say that plan hasn’t worked out would be an understatement. Defensively the team is allowing 2.44 goals-per-game, exactly the same as last year. However on offense, the team is averaging 0.51 fewer goals per game. Yes, some of that likely has to do with the injuries to Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad, but the bottom line is the season has been a bitter disappointment for the Panthers and Demers shares in some of the responsibility.
James Reimer (Florida Panthers) – Five years, $17MM: With Roberto Luongo now 37, and the upcoming expansion draft at least providing the Panthers with the possibility of getting out from under the final five years of his onerous contract, the Panthers elected to buy the best goalie on the free agent market this summer to provide a competent fallback option. After eight starts this season, Reimer has a Save % under 0.900 and a GAA above 3.0. While a $3.4MM AAV may not be on par with most of the league’s starters, it is excellent money for a backup and Reimer is currently not even playing to that modest level.