Two years ago the unrestricted free agent was flooded with aging players who still looked like they might have a few effective seasons left in them. That led teams to get into bidding wars and overpay, hoping that they could inject some production into the lineup while dealing with the consequences later down the line. Unfortunately, most of these contracts blew up immediately and provided very little value.
The biggest contracts given out in the first few days of the 2016 UFA market were as follows:
Milan Lucic (EDM) – Seven years, $42MM
Kyle Okposo (BUF) – Seven years, $42MM
Andrew Ladd (NYI) – Seven years, $38.5MM
Loui Eriksson (VAN) – Six years, $36MM
Frans Nielsen (DET) – Six years, $31.5MM
David Backes (BOS) – Five years, $30MM
Jason Demers (FLA) – Five years, $22.5MM
Troy Brouwer (CGY) – Four years, $18MM
Mikkel Boedker (SJS) – Four years, $16MM
That list is uninspiring to say the least, with two of the players having already been traded and a third who was bought out this offseason. Some of the others are among the worst contracts in the league relative to their production, something that can be said a few seasons out of basically every UFA season. This year may be no different, though there seemed to be more talent available.
Here is a list of the biggest contracts handed out this time around:
John Tavares (TOR) – Seven years, $77MM
James van Riemsdyk (PHI) – Five years, $35MM
James Neal (CGY) – Five years, $28.75MM
Paul Stastny (VGK) – Three years, $19.5MM
Ilya Kovalchuk (LAK) – Three years, $18.75MM
Calvin de Haan (CAR) – Four years, $18.2MM
Jack Johnson (PIT) – Five years, $16.25MM
David Perron (STL) – Four years, $16MM
Tyler Bozak (STL) – Three years, $15MM
While there is an obvious difference at the very top, it does seem like teams were wary to hand out six or seven year contracts to forwards approaching or at 30 years of age. van Riemsdyk and Neal especially would have ranked among the very best available in 2016, and likely would have been able to negotiate seven-year contracts along the lines of Lucic and Okposo. Still, not all of these deals will be looked back upon fondly. Even two years from now teams may be considering trades or buyouts to get out from under the cap hit, or stuck in purgatory hoping for a bounce-back campaign.
Which contract do you think will be regretted the most? Is Tavares’ mega-deal going to bite the Maple Leafs when they need to re-sign their young forward group? Will Kovalchuk bolt for the KHL again and leave the Kings holding his big cap hit? Will van Riemsdyk be able to take on more responsibility in Philadelphia and live up to his big number?
Cast your vote below and explain why you think the contract will be regretted. If you think someone else deserves the title—perhaps an Islanders or Canucks signing?—make sure to leave a comment to include them in the conversation.
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