It’s always interesting to see where teams are spending their money unwisely, especially to the armchair GMs of every fanbase. In a fine article by Satchel Price of SB Nation, he breaks down what he believes is each team’s worst contract currently on the books. After the slew of buyouts that happened early in the off-season, many teams were able to cut ties with some of the worst offenders. Still, some of the worst cap criminals are primed to haunt their teams yet again in 2017-18. Discounting the injured Nathan Horton, David Clarkson, and Dave Bolland, these were some of the names that stuck out on the list.
David Backes – Boston Bruins – 4 yrs x $6 MM
When Backes signed this contract, many were wondering what the Boston management were thinking. Backes already was showing signs of decline his last two seasons in St. Louis, and his tough style of play was always going to take away from his longevity. He still flirts with 40+ points and adds solid two-way ability. But in 2 seasons, if Backes continues to slow and falter possession-wise, this contract may become a brutal obstacle to beefing up the offense.
Brent Seabrook – Chicago Blackhawks – 7 yrs x $6.785 MM
Seabrook was a player who really piggy-backed off the success of the Hawks cup teams. He was a solid player, but by no means a core player. GM Stan Bowman thought differently, and handed out a massive, maximum-term contract, complete with a no-movement clause. Chicago has really struggled to fill their depth forward and bottom defensive positions out with cheap players, largely because of overpayments like this. Seabrook did accumulate a ton of assists last year, but his goal scoring has all but disappeared. Perhaps the worst negative to Seabrook? He’s never been a positive possession player in Corsi relative, in any single season he’s played. For a franchise that pays Jonathan Toews over $10 MM AAV, this contract is absolutely crippling.
Dustin Brown – L.A. Kings – 5 yrs x $5.875 MM
Brown benefited from the same intangibles-related inflation that Toews did. Leading a team to multiple Cups is generally a recipe to have your value balloon immensely. Winners are winners, after all. Brown, though, was never really integral to the team’s on-ice success in 2012 or 2014, and his undisputed leadership abilities didn’t help the team in the past few years when they have struggled to put pucks in the nett. His two-way ability is solid, but not elite, and he hasn’t broken 20 goals since 2011-12. Perhaps Brown can be revitalized under the system of coach John Stevens, but his body has to have taken a toll with the way he’s played the game. One need only look to former King Mike Richards to see what gritty, shot-blocking forwards have in the way of staying power.
Marc Staal – New York Rangers – 4 yrs x $5.75 MM
In all likelihood, the primary reason Staal has not already been bought out is because he had one more year on his contract than the much-maligned Dan Girardi. Staal has been a noticeably bad defender in terms of possession stats for the last three seasons, and showed few (if any) signs of improvement this season. He still logs over 19 minutes of ice a night, so he’s not stapled to the bench. But he’s not a top-four defender at this point, and considering how he’s never been a two-way threat, his one-dimensional game may only deteriorate further.
Andrew MacDonald – Philadelphia Flyers – 3 ys x $5 MM
This is a prime example of an error that most teams have learned to avoid – handing out multi-year deals to wildly inconsistent players. MacDonald had his offensive totals inflated by playing for a very lean New York Islanders team, and Philadelphia pounced on acquiring this player in the midst of a -9.0% Corsi Relative season. MacDonald has since dried up offensively, and while he has cleaned up his possession numbers against weaker competition, he still needs massive sheltering. He also has had a heck of a time staying healthy – he’s missed 93 contests over the last 3 campaigns. MacDonald is now taking valuable playing time from a young defensive core and hindering the team’s ability to acquire top free agents.