Sidney Crosby loves the numbers eight and seven, especially when used together as in sweater No. 87 and a salary cap hit of $8.7 million through the 2024-25 season.
Make no mistake, the Pittsburgh Penguins love that number combination, as well. After the completion his three-year entry-level contract, Crosby signed the first of two long-term deals with the Pens that averaged to $8.7 million per season. In return the Penguins received better than a point per game, not to mention three Stanley Cups from Crosby, the long-time face of the NHL to boot.
Consider Crosby’s contract a bargain, the best in the league from a team point of view.
MORE: NHL Rumor Roundup — Max Pacioretty’s days in Montreal numbered
On the flip side, that eight-year, $84 million deal the Montreal Canadiens signed goaltender Carey Price to? Consider that the worst in the NHL, the other end of the spectrum of Crosby’s deal, one the Habs will regret for a myriad of reasons and for years to come.
So, what are the best and worst contracts for every National Hockey League team this upcoming season?
Let’s take a look.
Best: Rickard Rackell produced consecutive 30-goal seasons and the Ducks have the 25-year-old in for four more years at $3.789 million.
Worst: This is a toss-up between a pair of overpaid 33-year-old forwards, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler. Perry (three years left at $8.625 per) is in the midst of a massive decline in production the past two seasons, to the point of 17 goals in 2017-18. Kesler (four years remaining at $6.875 million per) was already overpaid before staggering through an injury-plagued year last season, one in which he scored eight goals in 44 games. Both players are wearing down with full no-move clauses attached to their high salary cap hits. Flip of the coin says Perry is the club’s worst contract right now.
Best: Locking up All Star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson through his age 33 season at $8.25 million cap hit was smart, aggressive move by GM John Chayka this offseason.
Worst: There are no real standout terrible contracts here. Maybe mediocre back up goalie Darcy Kuemper at $1.85 million cap hit? That’s still a stretch. We’ll go with Alex Galchenyuk scoring 17 and 19 goals the past two seasons on a $4.9 million hit that runs through the next two seasons — keeping in mind he is a former 30-goal scorer who is only 24-years-old and capable of making that contract look good.
Best: Defenseman Torey Krug is getting better by the season, is coming off a career-high 59 points, has been a terrific postseason performer in his career and is only 27-years-old. He has two more years at $5.25 million on his fair-market contract.
Worst: David Backes is an inspirational player as he proved again last season, but at $6 million a season over the next three years, his contract is cumbersome and not a good one as the 34-year-old’s production continues to slip.
Best: The Sabres signed Carter Hutton, the top free-agent goalie this offseason, to a three-year contract that averages $2.75 million a year. He’s never been a No. 1 goalie, but even if he splits time with Linus Ullmark — but puts up the kind of numbers he did previously in St. Louis and Nashville — this is a good-looking deal.
Worst: Time will tell if Jack Eichel’s eight-year $80 million extension which kicks in this season, is going to be an albatross or bargain down the road for a kid who has not topped 64 points yet. Right now, though, injuries and declining production make the Kyle Okposo cap hit of $6 million over the next five years the team’s worst contract.
Best: Sean Monahan (five years remaining at $6.375 million) is providing great bang for the buck with his five-year run of top-line offensive consistency, but Johnny Gaudreau is a star, coming off a career-high 84 points, making the fours years left at $6.75 million on his deal quite palatable.
Worst: Troy Brouwer is a veteran leader, a player who wears a letter on his sweater and is a heart-and-soul member of the Flames. But following three years of declining offensive production, Brouwer’s two years remaining at $4.5 million don’t look so pretty.
Best: Dougie Hamilton is a durable, skilled, point-producing, right-shot defenseman that is owed under $6 million ($5.75) a year for the next three seasons. Honorable mention to Justin Faulk, who scores a bit less from the blue line than Hamilton, but is also a relative bargain at $4.833 million the next two years.
Worst: Jordan Staal is overpaid at $6 million per over the next five years — with a full no-movement clause — but the fashion in which goaltender Scott Darling flamed out last season makes the three years at $4.15 million left on his deal look far worse.
Best: Not a lot of “best” contracts to choose from in Chicago, though steady 27-year-old defenseman Jan Rutta in at $2.3 million fits the bill here.
Worst: The dual $10.5 million cap hits of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane do not bode well for the future, but they were the backbone of three Stanley Cup championships and they both can still play at elite levels. Defenseman Brent Seabrook (6 more years at $6.875 million) is also a three-time Cup winner, but his game is on a clear decline, and this is an ugly contract moving forward.
Best: Nathan MacKinnon is 22-years-old, the reigning Hart Trophy runner-up and is coming off a career-high 97-point season. He is signed for the next five years at a tidy $6.3 million.
Worst: Not sure 32-year-old Carl Soderberg is worth nearly $5 million a year the next two seasons.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Best: Landing 22-year-old former 20-goal scorer Anthony Duclair for one year at $650,000 this offseason really might be an absolute steal for the Blue Jackets — that is IF John Tortorella can get him straightened out and back on track.
Worst: Brandon Dubinsky (three years left at $5.85 million) was an absolute shell of himself this past season and looks to be on a permanent downward curve at age 32.
Best: John Klingberg is one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL, with 58, 49 and 67 points the past three years. The Stars have him signed up for four more years at only a $4.25 cap hit.
Worst: Injuries have certainly taken the luster off Martin Hanzel the past several years — despite his 21-goal output in 2016-17 and continued strong work on faceoffs and defense — making the final two years at $4.75 cap hit not attractive in the least.
Detroit Red Wings
Best: Thomas Vanek was a nice fit in Detroit two years ago and now he’s back on a one-year $3 million contract with the Red Wings. That’s a decent contract for a consistent scorer coming off a 24-goal, 56-point season.
Worst: Not a lot to choose from here, but Andreas Athanasiou is a three-million a year player? Even understanding inflated bridge deals this seems like a lot for a skilled forward, though one that scored only 18 and 16 goals previous two seasons.
Best: Signing the speedy Tobias Rieder to a one-year, $2 million deal this offseason was an underrated move by the Oilers. Oscar Klefbom’s long-term deal through his age 29 season (five years, $4.167 million per) is solid, too.
Worst: Those five years at $6 million per owed to Milan Lucic, not looking too good after last season’s ten-goal output.
Best: Aleksander Barkov is one of the game’s best young centers and the Panthers have him signed for four more years at $5.9 million. A point-per-game player in his age 22 season last year, Barkov’s deal will be a steal as he gets better and better.
Worst: Hard to find a really bad contract with the Panthers. Does Keith Yandle produce enough offense from the back end to offset his sketchy defensive play in order to collect an average of $6.35 million the next five years? Probably not.
Los Angeles Kings
Best: Jake Muzzin is a solid puck-moving d-man who recorded 42 points last season and played a big part on the Kings 2014 Stanley Cup-winning team. LA has him for another two years at an average of $4 million per.
Worst: Not sure about three years of 35-year-old Ilya Kovalchuk at $6.25 million a pop, but still more concerned about the three years at $5.875 million left on Dustin Brown‘s deal even after his resurgence (28-33-61) in his age 33 season a year ago. The four seasons prior, Brown had 27, 27, 28 and 36 points, and never scored more than 15 goals.
Best: Hard to beat the bang for the buck provided by Eric Staal, who scored 42 goals and 76 points last season and has only one year worth $3.5 million left on his contract.
Worst: Injuries and subsequent diminished production for 33-year-old Zach Parise make the final seven years at $7.538 million a real albatross for the Wild. The real money the next two years is $9 million per.
Best: Even considering last year’s aberration of a down year, team captain Max Pacioretty owns an extremely team-friendly deal with one year remaining at $4.5 million. Pacioretty already has five 30-goal seasons on his resume, including 35 just two seasons ago. Of course, he and his contract may soon be traded away as the Canadiens reportedly have no interest in signing Pacioretty to an extension.
Worst: Carey Price owns the worst contract in Montreal, and the worst in the entire NHL (eight years at $10.5 million per). That Price has been injured two of the past three seasons and is coming off the worst year statistically in his career doesn’t make this picture prettier. Huge contracts for goalies never seem to work out, and this is the biggest of them all.
Best: Team captain Roman Josi might have a Norris Trophy in his future. And the Predators have him signed for two more years at a $4 million cap hit..
Worst: Ryan Johansen has tons of potential, a 30-goal season four years ago and a solid track record as a point producer in the playoffs, but he’s got miles to go before he pays off the $8 million he is owed the next seven seasons.
New Jersey Devils
Best: Taylor Hall is 26-years-old and is the reigning Hart Trophy winner in the National Hockey League after setting career-highs with 39 goals and 93 points last season. He still has two years left at only $6 million per on his contract, though an extension will be in the offing in the not-so-distant future.
Worst: The Devils have a few not-so-great contracts, though Marcus Johansen’s ($4.583 million) deal has only one year left and might not look so bad if MarJo can stay healthy and keep a top-six role this season. However, Travis Zajac still has three years remaining at $5.75 million, and that is too much for a 33-year-old heading to role-player status.
New York Islanders
Best: 40-goal scorer Anders Lee is a bargain in the final year of a contract that pays him $3.75 million, but the Islanders did well in securing free agent goalie Robin Lehner on a prove-it one-year $1.5 million contract, which may end up to be an absolute steal of a deal.
Worst: Aging, overpaid and underperforming Andrew Ladd still has five years at $5.5 million per remaining on his contract. One of the league’s worst deals.
New York Rangers
Best: He’s not a star, but 26-year-old winger Jesper Fast can play up and down the lineup and is among the smartest players in the game, and certainly one of the most defensively responsible. He also scored 13 goals and totaled 33 points last season. The Rangers have him inked for another two years at under a $2 million cap hit ($1.875 million).
Worst: The Rangers have done a good job in recent years ridding themselves of some pretty ugly contracts, and did well not to add any during free agency in the midst of a serious rebuild. So, that leaves the contract of defenseman Brendan Smith (three more years at $4.35 cap hit) who was so ineffective last season that he ended up in the minor leagues. Since the Rangers are so far under the cap, 36-year-old, Henrik Lundqvist’s three years remaining at $8.5 million is negated.
Best: This may not last long, but Erik Karlsson — who could be traded or signed to a mega-extension — has one year left at $6.5 million, a steal for one of the NHL’s premier players.
Worst: Mikkel Boedker’s two years at $4 million per is plain ugly, but not in the same league as that $7.25 million cap hit Bobby Ryan carries for the next four years.
Best: Now that Sean Couturier added major production (31 goals, 76 points last season) to his Selke Trophy worthy play, the four years at $4.33 million left on the 25-year-old’s contract seem like a bargain.
Worst: Defenseman Andrew MacDonald never played to the level of the $5 million cap hit he’s owed the next two years.
Best: Not often you can pay a player $8.7 million a season and then sit back and pat yourself on the back with the great bargain you have. The Penguins can do that with Sidney Crosby, worth every penny– and so much more — even with seven years left on his deal.
Worst: Carl Hagelin is a real nice complimentary player who played an important role on back-to-back Cup winners with the Penguins. He’s just not a $4 million player. But this is a bit of a reach — especially with Hagelin having only one year to go on his deal — because the Pens do not have any really terrible contracts, pretty much all are justified.
St. Louis Blues
Best: The Blues got St. Louis-born free agent Patrick Maroon to sign a one-year $1.75 million contract this summer. That’s pretty terrific value for a 30-year-old top-9 forward who brings physicality and good hands to his new club.
Worst: Tyler Bozak does a lot of things well, but the Blues overpaid signing the 32-year-old to a three-year deal at $5 million per to be a third-line center. The pressure is on Ryan O’Reilly to justify that $7.5 cap hit he carries the next five years after the big trade with the Sabres this offseason.
San Jose Sharks
Best: Similar to Jesper Fast of the Rangers, Joonas Donskoi is an under-the-radar solid forward for the Sharks, who is paid less than $2 million a year ($1.9 million) heading into UFA status next July.
Worst: The Sharks are paying for potential with Tomas Hertl (four more years at $5.625 million per) than top-flight production. Hertl turns 25 this season, and maybe he takes his production up to the next level. Until that happens, this is not a great contract.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Best: Considering the contracts being signed by some of the top d-men in the league this offseason — see Drew Doughty, Oliver Ekman- Larsson, John Carlson and, soon enough, Erik Karlsson — the Lightning have to feel pretty good about the seven years at $7.875 million owed Victor Hedman, who won the Norris Trophy this past season.
Worst: Injury-prone Ryan Callahan has two more years at a bloated $5.8 million per remaining on his contract. Far too much for the 33-year-old who brings grit, heart and other intangibles, but falling production, as well, when he can actually get on the ice.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Best: Nazem Kadri is a 30-goal scorer and routinely goes up against the other teams top lines. He has become an invaluable member of the Leafs, and his cap hit of $4.5 million the next four years is well worth it.
Worst: There is a chance that the seven year, $77 million dollar mega deal signed by John Tavares will one day be looked at as a bad contract, though it’s too early to say that now. So, that leaves Nikita Zaitsev‘s six years remaining at $4.5 a year as the team’s worst deal — though that can change if Zaitsev plays more to his expected form moving forward.
Best: There are no real standout great contracts here, but signing up Bo Horvat — who may have reached 30 goals last year if not for injury (22 in 64 games) — at $5.5 million for the next five years qualifies based on his growing production and age (23).
Worst: Not in love with giving Antoine Roussel a four-year contract this offseason (at $3 million per), but that doesn’t compare with Loui Eriksson who has four years at $6 million per coming his way. The 32 year-old has been hurt often and ineffective when healthy his first two seasons in Vancouver.
Vegas Golden Knights
Best: There are a lot of really good contracts on this team — particularly on defense where Colin Miller (four years at $3.875 million) is the highest-paid defenseman. But Erik Haula, coming off a career-high 29 goals, owns the most team-friendly deal (two years left at $2.75 million).
Worst: Not many contenders for worst contract, but giving Marc-Andre Fleury a three-year, $21 million extension that kicks in next season when he turns 35 is not going to look pretty, no matter how popular The Flower is on and off the ice.
Best: Nicklas Backstrom is one of the premier playmakers in the game. He is paid handsomely (two more years with a $6.7 million cap hit), but is well worth it.
Worst: Seven more years at $5.75 million per is not going to be a pretty sight soon enough for 31-year-old heart and souler T.J. Oshie.
Best: Blake Wheeler was a Hart Trophy candidate all of last season, finishing with a career-high 91 points. He has one year at $5.6 million due, an absolute steal — though a possible contract extension would alter those numbers quite a bit.
Worst: Underachieving defenseman Dmitry Kulikov is no bargain at $4.33 million the next two years.