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15 Craziest NHL Contracts

by: Esteban On  Monday, September 17, 2012
Tags:  Contracts   Lockout   NHL   NHL Lockout   Salaries  

craziest biggest richest nhl contract

Well, the NHL officially locked out the players over the weekend. Now the entire 2012-13 season is in jeopardy, just 7 years removed from the 2004-05 lockout that cost us an entire season.

The great irony here, of course, is that the owners are complaining that they aren’t making enough money and demanding pay cuts for the players. Meanwhile, over the last 5 years, these same owners have spent like there’s no tomorrow when signing big-name free agents. And they’re going it to circumvent the rule that they forced the players to accept the last time around—the salary cap.

You just couldn’t make up a stupider, more maddening scenario. So today, to prove just how ridiculous this lockout is, we present you with the 15 craziest contracts in the NHL today.

What makes them crazy, you ask? Well, it’s some combination of length, value, and return. Some of them aren’t that outrageously pricey, but they are ridiculously long. (This is a contact sport, after all.) Others aren’t quite as long, but they pay a fortune. And, of course, others just overpay a player for diminishing contributions.In any case, the larger point, ladies and gentleman, is that this insanity is why there might not be any hockey this year. And I think I speak for hockey fans everywhere when I say “thanks a lot, rich jerks.”

15. Sidney Crosby (12 years, $104.4 million, $8.7m/season)

15 Sidney-Crosby

Contract: 12 years, $104.4 million

Cap Hit: $8.7 million

Age during the first year: 26

Age during the final year: 37

When healthy, Crosby is the best player in the game. So really, Pittsburgh had absolutely no choice by to lock #87 up for the rest of his career earlier this summer. Still, Mr. The Kid has had some serious injury problems over the last two seasons that make this contract a bit of a crap shoot. After all, what if he takes another shot to the head this year (or whenever they start playing again), shutting him down for another year and a half and rendering him a completely different player?

The only thing Pittsburgh can like about this contract is that, factoring in inflation, the $8.7 million cap hit won’t be that bad by the end of the contract.

14. Duncan Keith

14 duncan keith

Contract: 12 years, $72 million

Cap Hit: $5.54 million

Age during the first year: 27

Age during the final year: 39

The first seven years of this deal pay Keith at least $6 million per year, with a max of $8 million. After that it tails off to just $1.5 million for the final year. So, obviously, the Blackhawks added those years at the end to water down the cap hit for the years Keith is in his prime.

13. Ilya Bryzgalov

13 ilya bryzgalov

Contract: 9 years, $51 million

Cap Hit: $5.67 million

Age during the first year: 31

Age during the final year: 40

Four of the ridiculous contracts on this list are courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers, even though only three of them actually played there. (We’ll see why later on.) The first one is the huge 9-year deal they gave goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Though it’s not nearly as long as some of the other contracts handed out recently, the fact that he was already 31—and the fact that he was anything awful in the playoffs last year while making $10,000,000—make this one look pretty bad in hindsight.

12. Mike Richards

12 mike richard

Contract: 12 years, $69 million

Cap Hit: $5.75 million

Age during the first year: 23

Age during the final year: 35

Here’s the second of three consecutive crazy contracts handed out by Philly. The money involved here isn’t really that nuts, as Richards will be getting paid $4.5 million when he’s 33 and only $3 million when he’s 34 and 35. He may very well be worth every penny. But what makes this contract crazy is what makes all decade-long contracts crazy: you never know what’s going to happen. What if Mike Richards blew out his knee in the first week of the 2010 season? What if he gets blindsided by an elbow to the head this season? Then that’s cap space (and actual money) down the drain.

Of course, the Kings are glad they took the risk and picked up this huge deal.

11. Jeff Carter

11 jeff carter

Contract: 11 years, $58 million

Cap Hit: $5.27 million

Age during the first year: 26

Age during the final year: 37

This contract is crazy for the same reason the Mike Richards contract was crazy: so much uncertainty. The money isn’t that nuts, with Carter scheduled to get paid $3 million when he’s 35 years old. But let’s say he missed the majority of the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons with post-concussion syndrome? That’s $14 million down the drain.

However, just like with Mike Richards, the Kings are very glad they took a gamble and picked Carter up from the Blue Jackets at the trade deadline.

10. Vincent Lecavalier

10 vincent lecavalier

Contract: 11 years, $85 million

Cap Hit: $7.28 million

Age during the first year: 29

Age during the final year: 40

Guess how many times Vincent Lecavalier has scored 70 or more points in a season?

The answer is five. And only 2 of those 5 seasons were truly elite superstar calibre seasons—he scored 52 goals and 108 points in 2006-07, and then 40 goals and 92 points in 2007-08. And yet in 2009 the Lightning gave Lecavalier a contract that will pay him $10 million per year through 2016, at which point the guy will be 36.

This is either the most overrated or underperforming player of the last 20 years.

9. Christian Ehrhoff

9 christian ehrhoff

Contract: 10 Years, $40 million

Cap Hit: $4 million

Age during the first year: 29

Age during the final year: 38

The cap hit the Sabres will take on Ehrhoff over the next 9 seasons isn’t that bad. What makes this one stink if the fact that the defenseman made $10 million last season—with his 32 points and -2 rating—and will make $8 million this season. Ouch.

8. Marian Hossa

8-marian-hossa

Contract: 12 years, $62.8 million

Cap Hit: $5.27 million

Age during the first year: 30

Age during the final year: 42

This contract will pay Marian Hossa $7.9 million per year through 2016, when he will be 37 years old. Then, when he’s 38 he’s make $4 million, before going all the way down to $1 million for ages 39-42.

Now, Hossa is a fine player, but will he really be worth $7.9 million from ages 35-37? That seems pretty unlikely.

7. Rick DiPietro

7 rick dipietro

Contract: 15 years, $67.5 million

Cap Hit: $4.5 million

Age during the first year: 24

Age during the final year: 39

Coming in at #7 we have the contract that seemed so incredibly insane when it was signed in 2006, only to become almost reasonable compared to the stuff that we’ve seen lately…almost. You see, unlike other teams in the salary cap era, the Islanders didn’t even front load his contract for the prime years. Instead, they’ll pay him the same $4.5 million every year.

Now, DiPietro was just 24 when the deal was signed, and the Islanders thought they had their goaltender of the future. But 15 years? That’s nuts, and it has come back to bite them in the rear—the guy has played only 47 games in the last four years.

6. Roberto Luongo

6 roberto luongo

Contract: 12 years, $64 million

Cap Hit: $5.33 million

Age during the first year: 31

Age during the final year: 43

Supplanted the DiPietro contract in the annals of moronic goalie contracts was the contract the Canucks gave Roberto Luongo back in 2010. I mean, hell, at least DiPietro was only 24 when he signed with the Isles for 15 years. Luongo was 31, and he’ll get paid $6.7 million when he’s—are you ready?—39 years old.

Now the Canucks want to dump him in favor of Cory Schneider, but not even the richest team in hockey (the Leafs) has been willing to take on that albatross.

5. Zach Parise

5 zach parise wild

Contract: 13 years, $98 million

Cap Hit: $7.54 million

Age during the first year: 28

Age during the final year: 40

The deal Parise signed with the Wild this summer will pay him $8 million when he’s 36 years old. Pretty sweet right? Well, on top of that, he’s guaranteed to make $25 million in bonuses over the next three seasons…meaning that’s his no matter what the new CBA looks like.

4. Ryan Suter

4 ryan suter wild

Contract: 13 years, $98 million

Cap Hit: $7.54 million

Age during the first year: 27

Age during the final year: 40

The Wild gave the exact same contract they gave Zach Parise to Ryan Suter, right down to the guaranteed $25 million in bonuses.

The ultimate irony? Just 6 months ago, Wild owner Craig Leipold was bemoaning the state of the NHL and how it was unfair that “rich” teams were doling out crazy-huge contracts.

Huh.

3. Ilya Kovalchuk

3 ilya kovalchuk

Contract: 15 years, $100 million

Cap Hit: $6.67 million

Age during the first year: 27

Age during the final year: 42

The Devils’ initial deal with Kovalchuk gave him the same money but over 17 years. When the league nixed that, it was shortened to just 15 years. What a big huge difference, right?

This one, obviously, is designed to get around the salary cap. From 2012 through 2018, when he’s 34 years old, Kovalchuk will get about $11 million per season. After that his salary drops to $7 million, then $4 million, then three years of $1 million—at which point the Devils probably assume he’ll retire.

2. Shea Weber

2-shea-weber

Contract: 14 years, $110 million

Cap Hit: $7.86 million

Age during the first year: 27

Age during the final year: 40

Remember when I said the Philadelphia Flyers were responsible for 4 of the contracts on this list, despite the fact that only 3 of the players actually played for them? Well, this is the fourth. The Nashville Predators only gave Weber this deal because they absolutely had to—Philadelphia offered him the restricted free agent the same thing, and if the Preds didn’t match it they’d have to watch their franchise player (and any chance of winning) walk away.

Now, Weber is so good that a 14 year deal isn’t really crazy. What’s crazy is the annual value in the early years: at $14 million per year through 2016, when he’ll be just 30, Weber will be the highest paid player in the NHL.

1. Alex Ovechkin (13 years, $124 million, $9.54m/season)

1 alex ovechkin

Contract: 13 years, $124 million

Cap Hit: $9.54 million

Age during the first year: 23

Age during the final year: 35

This is a simple contract—and that’s what makes it crazy. You see, it pays Alexander Ovechkin $9 million per year from 2008-2014. Then from 2014-2021 is pays him $10 million per year.

Now, leaving aside the issue of whether Ovechkin will ever be worth that money again (he certainly wasn’t last year), what really makes this deal nuts is that it expires when the guy is just 35. Why didn’t they add 5 more years at a reduced salary to lower the cap hit to $6.8 million? As it is, a $9.54 million cap hit is pretty big for a 35 goal scorer.




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