Five Worst NHL Contracts
Is Erik Karlsson’s current contract the worst value for money in the NHL? Photo: Matt Cohen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Five Worst NHL Contracts – What Contracts Are Not Value For Money?

Playoff hockey is fierce… unless you are the Colorado Avalanche who completed the sweep over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. While the cup favorites are off to a hot start there is no denying the current contract of Nathan MacKinnon is a massive helping hand. His contract, along with the likes of the Boston Bruins Brad Marchand, have been talked about ad nauseam over the past few years, but how about bad NHL contracts? Today we look at the five worst NHL contracts.

  1. Erik Karlsson – San Jose Sharks – $11.5m AAV – 6 years remaining – No Move Clause

“I did not sign here to go through a rebuild.”

Erik Karlsson speaking to the media in March

I mean it’s a fair enough quote from a player who in his prime probably deserved to win a Stanley Cup. However, what I would ask Karlsson is if he didn’t expect a rebuild what exactly was he expecting? It certainly couldn’t have been a Stanley Cup when nearly 51% of the team’s salary cap is tied up in five players, four of whom are the wrong side of thirty.

Even Colorado’s top line couldn’t get them past round two, not to mention three of the five players involved in that calculation are defensemen. Unless Karlsson plans on playing a full 60 minutes which I don’t recommend with his previous injury problems you are going to need some money to build depth. The problem for San Jose is they are in complete cap hell which doesn’t have an end in sight. Erik Karlsson might not want a rebuild but he sure as hell isn’t getting a Stanley Cup in San Jose without one.

2. Sergei Bobrovsky – Florida Panthers – $10m AAV – 5 years remaining – No Move Clause

Next up on our Five Worst NHL Contracts is the Russian Roulette himself… Sergei Bobrovsky. When your coach decides to drop your ass for a do-or-die playoff game to play a 20-year-old rookie in his first-ever NHL game you know things are bad. Fortunately for Sergei, he has a cool $10 million AAV contract for the next five years to help him sleep. He’ll also have a lot of time to work on his tan after a first-round exit to the Tampa Bay Lightning became a reality on Wednesday night.

The problem Joel Quenneville and the Panthers face now is that Bobrovsky was their third-best goaltender this season. However, with a no-move clause and 5 years remaining the Russian is going nowhere. Chris Driedger, who outperformed Bobrovsky in the regular season, is an unrestricted free agent and Spencer Knight proved in his brief playoff appearance that he deserves at least some NHL time next season. A decision is needed and unfortunately, it won’t be to the benefit of the Panthers.

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3. Zach Parise – Minnesota Wild – $7.5m AAV – 4 years remaining – No Move Clause

You can’t have a five worst NHL contracts without Zach Parise, despite the fact his Minnesota Wild are making a series of it against the Vegas Golden Knights. I honestly thought this guy had retired, then I see he’s played 45 games this season and averaged just under 14 minutes per game of ice time. I have only one question… When? I watched a bit of the Wild this season due to being in the Honda West Division with the Avalanche and playing them eight times. He registered three points in those eight games while picking up a cool $7.5 million. Can I get that deal?

The forward was also a healthy scratch for games one, two, and three of the playoff series against the Vegas Golden Knights. He returned for game four in which the Wild were shut out by Marc-Andre Fleury in a 4-0 loss. At 36 years old and with four years remaining on a 13-year contract the only upside for the Wild is that his base salary reduces to $6 million next year, $2 million in 2022-23 season, and $1 million for the final two years of his deal.

  1. Jeff Skinner – Buffalo Sabres – $9m AAV 6 years remaining – No Move Clause

I get it. The Buffalo Sabres are a complete dumpster fire. However, two points in your first twenty games while earning $9 million is not exactly helping the problem and gets you on the five worst NHL contracts list. That is the story of Jeff Skinner this past regular season, who also saw himself being healthy scratched for three consecutive games.

So far this looks like not just a bad contract but a REALLY bad contract. If Jack Eichel walks as it looks likely he may do this offseason the Buffalo Sabres will be in real trouble. Skinners contract, if he continues to perform as he did this season, will do little to help that. 

Add insult to injury the Sabres can’t even expose him to the Seattle Kraken in the upcoming expansion draft without his approval. Although why the Kraken would want to take that contract is beyond my level of understanding. With six years remaining all Sabres fans can hope for is a resurgence that will make the contract at the very least serviceable.

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  1. Martin Jones – San Jose Sharks – $5.75 AAV 3 years remaining – Modified No-Trade Clause. 

I swear I’m not picking on the San Jose Sharks, it’s just that they have a lot of bad contracts. For instance, in this final spot for five worst NHL contracts, I could have selected Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Logan Couture, Evander Kane, or Brent Burns. I decided to go for the easy option though and select goaltender Martin Jones instead.

Brent Burns has had a rough few years after being dominant. Also, it’s not Couture or Kane’s fault the Sharks are paying them as bonafide top-line players when neither fit that stature. Despite all this, Martin Jones is the main reason the San Jose Sharks have failed to reach the playoffs for consecutive years.

The former Los Angeles Kings shot-stopper got paid in 2018 and then proceeded to lose all goaltending ability. Since signing a 6 year $5.75 million AAV deal after starring in the Sharks run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2017 Jones has failed to produce a plus .900SV% in a regular season. BE WARNED ST. LOUIS BLUES!!! This could be your future with Jordan Binnington.

Honorable mentions:

Loui Eriksson – Vancouver Canucks – $4.9 AAV 1 year remaining – Modified No-Trade Clause (Taxi Squad)

This has never been a good contract for the Vancouver Canucks, but finally, they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Andrew Ladd – New York Islanders – $4.4 AAV 2 years remaining – Modified No-Trade Clause (Taxi Squad)

Another contract that has never really repaid its value. You can see why the Islanders paid him back in 2016 given his previous years in Winnipeg and Chicago but it just hasn’t worked out. 

Oliver Ekman Larsson – Arizona Coyotes – $8.25 AAV 6 years remaining – No Move Clause

The Vendetta Hockey team hates this deal with Lead NHL Analyst Andrew McGuinness saying it “that OEL deal is a nightmare, he’s not that great of a player”. While I agree he’s not a great player there was just a defenseman with a worse deal (see above: Karlsson, Erik).

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P.K. Subban – New Jersey Devils – $9m AAV 2 years remaining

The Devils got the wrong end of the P.K. Subban deal. Simple. But they had to know that when they traded for him. Right!?!

Jonathan Quick – Los Angeles Kings – $5.8 AAV 2 years remaining

The Los Angeles Kings got two Stanley Cups out of Jonathan Quick so it’s not an all-time bad contract but a decision has to be made now. With the form of Cal Petersen do you expose Quick in the draft or do you protect the player who helped you to two Stanley Cups? Chances are Seattle wouldn’t pick Quick anyways but the message it sends either way could divide your hockey club.

Matt Duchene – Nashville Predators – $8m AAV 5 years remaining

Matt Duchene was the first-ever hockey Jersey I owned (I’m sorry Trey I got a name on the back. Please don’t fire me on the next Vendetta Survivor episode). By the time he departed the Colorado Avalanche though I was ready for him to leave. While the Avalanche has gone from strength to strength Duchene has struggled. He COULD be an $8 million player but right now he’s not.

THE DEBATE IS OVER!

Jacob Trouba – New York Rangers – $8m AAV 5 years remaining – No Move Clause

Another name that popped up in the Vendetta Hockey chat. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad contract right now, but in two years the Rangers are gonna have a decision to make. The reason it doesn’t flag as highly!?! ELC contracts for Adam Fox, K’Andre Miller, Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko, and Vitali Kravtsov.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – San Jose Sharks – $7m AAV 5 years remaining – No Move Clause

I literally could have picked five San Jose Sharks contracts.

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