Well, well, well - two posts in a single day from me. I always knew it would happen one day...
The 'Top-Of-The-Pile', at least as far as awful NHL contracts go, was that of Alexei Yashin. Light years away from matching that kind of scratch with equivalent performance on the ice his contract will ALWAYS be that by which other shiity contracts are measured.
He is not our focus however.
Our focus, for purposes of the article, is on those players who have contracts that represent a significant short-term hindrance to the teams that they play for. Contracts that can then be absorbed, in trade, by another team to which the contract does NOT represent a significant hindrance.
As some of you may have guessed by now I am a fan of hyper-aggressive team management. Whether it be in team rebuilding or in team reloading I figure that any team that can spend at or near the budget each year that does not is probably making a strategic, competitive, mistake.
That said, I give you...
These are players with 2 or fewer years on their contracts who can be picked at little or no cost by an aggressive team. The idea however is NOT to pick them up at little or no cost - it is to pick them up at a gain.
Cap$ .. Budget$ /yr ............... Player
6.08 .. 6.08 .. _.__ .. CLB .. C .. Fedorov
4.25 .. 4.25 .. _.__ .. ATL .. C .. Holik
4.25 .. 4.25 .. _.__ .. DAL .. D .. Norstrom
4.00 .. 4.00 .. 4.00 .. CHI .. D .. Aucoin
3.92 .. 3.90 .. 3.95 .. PHO .. D .. Morris
2.99 .. 3.12 .. _.__ .. NYR .. D .. Kasparaitis
1.90 .. 1.92 .. _.__ .. CHI .. D .. Cullimore
6.75 .. 6.75 .. 6.75 .. CHI .. G .. Khabibulin
5.33 .. 6.00 .. _.__ .. COL .. G .. Theodore
3.70 .. 3.70 .. 3.70 .. OTT .. G .. Gerber
2.87 .. 2.80 .. 3.00 .. TBL .. G .. Denis
6.00 .. 6.00 .. _.__ .. VAN .. L .. Naslund
4.50 .. 4.50 .. 4.50 .. MON .. R .. Kovalev
4.23 .. 4.50 .. _.__ .. NYI .. R .. Satan
3.53 .. 3.53 .. _.__ .. MON .. R .. Samsonov
2.40 .. 2.40 .. _.__ .. CHI .. R .. Lapointe
With 4 overpriced contracts on the books, two of which are multi-year, the 'winner' is Chicago.
Colorado, Dallas, Montreal and the two New Yorks have the budgets (re: owners with big wallets) to cover for their issues while Vancouver actually needs Naslund just so that they have an option beyond the Sedins on offense.
That doesn't mean those teams wouldn't part with the player if they could - it just means they will/would be much harder to take advantage of. Unlike the others, Montreal does have two 'iffy' contracts so there may be a greater impetus to dump one of them.
Atlanta, Columbus and Ottawa can carry their bear their crosses as need be. Ottawa has the budget and the two others would still need players in those spots. That said I believe a favorable deal could be done with those teams.
Who knows with Phoenix. The question is - are they rebuilding that team or not? Knowing that decision decides the deal. Still, Morris is overpaid by a good $1.5 mill or so and over two years that hurts a team that doesn't have unlimited resources.
The most desperate team is probably Tampa Bay - when management is fighting for their budgetary life it is NOT a good thing... unless, of course, you are the one circling the corpse...
The top-5 of the desperate (in order):
Thinking of Chicago right now. You know you can't get Toews, Skille, Seabrook, Keith or Barker out them but they do have that #1 pick and prospects like Bolland and Richmond. At the very least an offer of:
5th round pick
Cullimore & a 2nd round pick
... should get some serious attention. Paying $1.9 million for a move of 90+ draft spots may seem silly but for a team that needs a stay-at-home d-man (who plays 3rd pair minutes) anyways it represents good value and if money is irrelevant then... use it (throw him in the minors if need be).
Thinking of Tampa Bay. With other teams chasing Lecavalier or Richards, a team going after Denis may just win the race. A prospect like Mihalik, or even the 1st round pick from 2008, may be available. An offer of:
RTP* prospect, (2007) 4th round pick & (2008) 2nd round pick
Denis, Mihalik & (2008) 1st round pick
... might go a long way. Tampa has lots of young d-men coming up so Mihalik isn't crucial (he is a few years away regardless) and losing Denis means they can keep the big-3 together longer.
RTP = ready to play and * = a decent prospect (not some scrub)
I am convinced that a team that isn't ready to compete yet, but has the cash, can really make some moves in this NHL. Be interesting to see if any do.
Sure, the 'Top-Of-The-Pile' might suck, it's still all good if it pays-off in the end.
Have a great evening everyone.