Free agency is often a place where teams around the league overpay for depth additions that have little impact on their team. Even the top free agents available are often given too many years and too much money, especially heading into their declining years. Arguments can be made against several big earners from last year, with Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo, David Backes and Loui Eriksson all struggling at times throughout the 2016-17 season. Each one is owed $6MM for at least four more seasons, carrying them into their mid-30s. While there were some good things to point out in each of their seasons, the contracts seem like they’ll be dragging their team down in just a few years.
On the other side though, there is the chance to get an incredible amount of production for extremely low prices if you’re willing to take a chance on another team’s castoff. Jon Marchessault signed with Florida for two years and just $1.5MM total, and proceded to put up a 30-goal season for the Panthers. Sam Gagner turned $650K into 50 points for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and a shiny new three-year deal with Vancouver this summer. There are bargains to be had every year, as long as you’re willing to take a chance.
This year, we’ve seen several aging veterans take extremely low-priced contracts after a buyout, and some restricted free agents hit the open market after not receiving a qualifying offer. Last year, Gagner and Marchessault easily paced the UFAs in terms of cost per point, but a 35-year old Radim Vrbata was great value even after factoring in the performance bonuses he earned.
So who will that title go to this year? Mike Cammalleri and Scott Hartnell are both getting just $1MM and can still play, while a player like Kenny Agostino could jump to the NHL and impress. There are also the remaining names like Jaromir Jagr and Thomas Vanek, who still don’t have a contract weeks into free agency. Vote below, and make sure you leave other options in the comments for people to discuss.
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