Bad deals are assured in sports and pop culture. Endless, exorbitant, antic affairs can abort a team’s future, ensnare a ascent adolescent star, or attenuate a aloft studio. Also, they’re hilarious. In account of these abhorrent agreements, we present a attending at some of the best arrant in their corresponding fields. Welcome to Affliction Affairs Week.
Welcome to Grantland’s Affliction Affairs Week — NHL Edition. I like that title. It rolls off the argot a little nicer than my aboriginal proposal: “Good god, NHL GMs, aback will you apprentice to stop throwing money at capricious goalies and abhorrent chargeless agents, why are you all so stupid???”
For the best part, we’ll be alive with the aforementioned access that Jonah Keri acclimated for baseball. But hockey’s bacon mural has a few altered quirks, so let’s lay out some arena rules.
• The NHL assigns a cap hit by averaging a player’s complete bacon (including bonuses) across the complete contract, and that amount never changes during the activity of the deal. That’s absolutely the cardinal we’re absorbed in here, alike if the complete bacon rises and avalanche over the advance of the contract. I acclaimed a few cases area the anatomy was abnormally creative, but we’re absorption on the cap hit, not complete dollars spent.
• The breadth of the arrangement matters, and in abounding cases is a bigger bureau than the cap hit. Affairs that expire aural the aing year or two had to be absolutely bad to alike access the discussion. Dany Heatley’s $45 actor accord angry out to be a adversity for several teams over the years, but it expires at the end of this season, so it’s not absolutely a bad accord today.
• It won’t abruptness you to see that several of the arguable “cap circumvention” deals from years accomplished appearance up below. Remember, the new cap anamnesis aphorism makes those affairs abnormally boxy on teams that are ashore with them.
• Yes, the bacon cap will accumulate rising. We all get that. That helps in some cases, abnormally if a player’s assembly is acceptable to break collapsed or increase, but it isn’t a complete alibi for giving out antic abiding deals.
• We won’t amerce or accolade teams based on whether they acquire any acquiescence buyouts left, admitting I did agenda a few cases area it’s appealing ablaze that one could be used. If the best aegis of a arrangement is “Well, they can consistently aloof buy it out,” afresh it’s a bad contract.
• Unofficially retired players like Chris Pronger and Marc Savard who are on the abiding afflicted assets account aren’t advised bad contracts, aback their teams are accepting cap relief.
• We’re annoying only about affairs that are currently on the books, not extensions that acquire been alive but acquire not yet kicked in. You’re off the angle for now, Corey Crawford and Henrik Lundqvist.
And remember, this is a snapshot of the league’s affliction deals appropriate now. For anniversary arrangement below, “years” refers to how abounding seasons are larboard (including this accepted one), not how abounding were on the aboriginal deal.
You may be assured to see some of these guys on the list, but they didn’t accomplish the cut. Here’s why.
Ryan Suter and/or Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild: Both their deals are acutely ludicrous. But hockey is added acceptable a action area it’s account advantageous big money for aristocratic talent, alike if you acquire to skimp everywhere abroad to do it. Are these guys elite? Suter seems to be. Parise … analysis aback with me aing year.
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators: He apparently has the best antic arrangement in the league, but if the Predators absitively to barter him, their buzz would be campanology off the hook.
Travis Zajac, New Jersey Devils: I absolutely appetite to abhorrence his eight-year contract. But Devils admirers assume accomplished with the accord — alike abnormally blessed with it. I still assets the appropriate to say “I told you so,” but for now, I’ll leave him alone.
Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets: I’m not a big fan of his work, and $3.9 actor is too abundant for what he brings to the table. But as far as goalie deals go, this one is about reasonable.
Ryan Malone, Tampa Bay Lightning: Thankfully, aloof two years left.
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators: This was a awe-inspiring deal, and it apparently set the almanac for best years accustomed to a amateur you’d never heard of, but you could avert it.
Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers: A few years ago it apparently makes the list, but his accord expires in 2016, and Campbell’s absolutely been appealing abuse acceptable this year.
Tyler Bozak, Toronto Maple Leafs: I didn’t like the accord at the time and I still anticipate Mikhail Grabovski is better, but Bozak’s been earning his money this year.
Tuomo Ruutu, Carolina Hurricanes: To be honest, I already acquainted like I was actuality too adamantine on the Hurricanes. Uh, addle-brain alert.
Any Member of the Philadelphia Flyers: I know, I was as abashed as you are. But while the Flyers acquire lots of bad deals — Mark Streit, Luke Schenn, Scott Hartnell — none are bad abundant to accomplish the top 15. And by the way, admitting an off year, I’m not assertive the accessible Claude Giroux addendum was a mistake.
15. Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks: $5.275 actor x 8 years
Hossa is a abundant player, and he’s a abduct at a cap hit aloof arctic of $5 million. So how can his arrangement be advised bad? Simple: It goes on forever.
Well, not absolutely forever. Aloof until 2021, at which point, Hossa will be 42 years old. Hossa’s accord was one of the best arrant examples of the arrant cap abstention deals that swept the alliance adjoin the end of the old aggregate acceding agreement. It wasn’t alike abnormally attenuate — Hossa makes $7.9 actor a division in complete dollars until 2016, afresh sees his pay collapse to an closing $1 actor over the aftermost four years of the contract. That’s some austere front-loading. If he retires in 2016, the Hawks will booty a cap anamnesis hit of $3.6 actor a division for bristles years.
The Blackhawks alive Hossa in 2009 and went on to win two Cups with him (and counting), so it’s adamantine to brainstorm they affliction this deal. But it’s activity to attending bad aural a few years and break that way for a connected time.
14. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: $5.8 actor x 10 years
This one could appear aback to chaw me, and soon. Aural two weeks, Quick could be walking about with a gold badge about his aing and “consensus best goalie in the world” characterization slapped on his , and you’ll all coursing me bottomward to point and laugh.
But that’s the affair about this accord — for it to accomplish sense, Quick appealing abundant has to be the best goalie in the world. And during the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, that’s absolutely what he was. For the blow of his career … not so much.
Since Quick became a amateur in 2008, 27 goalies acquire played at atomic 200 games. Quick ranks appropriate in the boilerplate in agreement of save percentage, sitting 15th. Actuality the 15th-best goalie in a alliance of 30 teams isn’t bad at all. But is it account the third-biggest goalie arrangement in the league? Remember, NHL teams don’t absolutely acquire a history of accepting acceptable amount out of abiding goalie deals. Added goalies who’ve accustomed deals for a decade or best acquire included Rick DiPietro and addition guy we’ll get to added bottomward the list. Goaltending is aloof really, absolutely adamantine to predict.
And it’s not like “L.A. Kings goalie” is absolutely one of the toughest job descriptions around. The Kings are one of the best arresting teams in the league, and aback Quick was aching for about two months beforehand this season, they didn’t absence a exhausted — career advancement Ben Scrivens and undrafted amateur Martin Jones put up accomplished numbers.
It feels like the best accessible aftereffect actuality for the Kings is that they get OK value. The worst-case book … well, we’ve already apparent it.
13. Jordan Staal, Carolina Hurricanes: $6 actor x 10 years
Staal orrated a barter out of Pittsburgh during the 2012 offseason, abundantly because the aloft additional all-embracing aces was annoyed of actuality ashore abaft Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the abyss chart. The Hurricanes acquired him, and afresh anon alive him to a abiding addendum account first-line money that kicked in this season.
So far, Carolina hasn’t accustomed annihilation a first-line production. Staal has put up aloof 58 credibility in 105 amateur for the Hurricanes, and it looks like he’ll abort to able the 40-point mark this season. You don’t admeasurement a amateur like Staal based absolutely on credibility — he’s an accomplished two-way amateur — but for $60 million, you acquire to be acquisitive for a little added than Rich Peverley numbers.
At 25, Staal is one of the youngest players on this list, so there’s still time for this accord to assignment out. But so far it’s been a aloft overpay.
12. Tyler Myers, Buffalo Sabres: $5.5 actor x 6 years
Well, at atomic you can see what the Sabres were cerebration here. Myers won the Calder Trophy afterwards scoring about 50 credibility as a amateur in 2010, and at 6-foot-8, you had to admiration if the Sabres had begin themselves the aing Zdeno Chara.
His green year wasn’t absolutely as productive, but he still looked good, and during the 2011 offseason, the Sabres absitively the time was appropriate to get the 21-year-old bound up abiding on a seven-year addendum that would blast in the afterward year. But Myers’s comedy connected to abatement off in 2011-12, and by the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, he managed aloof eight credibility while disturbing to accumulate a atom in the lineup.
This year, Myers’s d has rebounded somewhat. He’s not account his paycheck appropriate now and ability never be again, but he’s adolescent abundant that there’s at atomic some achievement he can be a advantageous allotment of the Sabres’ rebuild, instead of an albatross. If he can put calm addition solid season, he won’t be on aing year’s list.
11. Nathan Horton, Columbus Blue Jackets: $5.3 actor x 7 years
Horton’s a big ability advanced with a Cup ring. That’s good. He additionally managed to comedy added than 70 amateur in a division alone already aback 2007-08. That’s not so good.
Granted, one of those years included the 2012-13 assignment stoppage, aback Horton played 43 out of 48 games, so we can accord him acclaim for two advantageous seasons out of six. But he absent about bisected of 2011-12 with a blow and the aboriginal 40 amateur of this year convalescent from acquire surgery. Committing seven years to a amateur who relies on a concrete d but can’t assume to break advantageous seems like a cogent risk.
There’s some argumentation to the abstraction that a authorization like the Blue Jackets ability acquire to overpay to acreage chargeless agents. I’m aloof not abiding Horton’s the guy you appetite to cycle the dice with.
10. Johan Franzen, Detroit Red Wings: $3.95 actor x 7 years
When Franzen alive his 11-year addendum in April 2009, he was aloof finishing up his aboriginal 30-goal season. While it was abnormal to see a aggregation accomplish so abounding years to a 29-year-old, his cap hit was added than reasonable for a guy who denticulate in that range.
He hasn’t hit that 30-goal mark afresh aback then, but he came aing over the aboriginal few years of his deal. He absent best of 2009-10 to injury, but denticulate 28 goals in 2010-11 and 29 in 2011-12. In the lockout year, he managed 14 in 41 games. That was a bead in his goals-per-game rate, but not a aloft one.
But this year, his scoring amount is bottomward already again, and has biconcave beneath .30 per d for the aboriginal time aback 2007. He’s 34 years old and has battled injuries. It’s fair to say that while the Wings may acquire accustomed acceptable amount for their money over the accomplished few years, they’re absolutely into the “declining returns” appearance of the deal.
And that’s bad news, because there’s an abominable lot of years left. Franzen is alive through 2020, at which point he’ll be 40 years old. It’s adamantine to see him authoritative it anywhere a that far afterwards actuality bought out.
9. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators: $7 actor x 6 years
Rinne was advancing off a 2011 Vezina choice aback the Predators gave him a seven-year, $49 actor addendum on his 29th birthday. He was nominated afresh in 2012, alike admitting his numbers alone slightly.
But by the time the addendum kicked in aftermost season, Rinne was alone average, finishing 23rd in save allotment amid goalies with at atomic 20 games. This division was declared to be a bounce-back year, but instead he’s absent best of it with a hip infection. You can’t accusation a guy for adversity a accident injury, but the Predators now acquisition themselves on the angle for the league’s second-highest goalie cap hit through 2019, aback Rinne will be 36.
Seriously, NHL teams, stop signing goalies to abiding deals that booty them able-bodied into their thirties. I affiance I’ll acknowledgment this alone already more.
8. P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens: $2.875 actor x 1 year
Subban is the ascendant Norris winner. He was called for Aggregation Canada. He’s alone 24, and he’s already one of the best absorbing talents in the league. He is, to put it bluntly, awesome, and at beneath than $3 actor a year, he’s an complete steal.
So how can he possibly accomplish this list? Because clashing anybody abroad we’ve mentioned, his arrangement is absolutely too small. Let me explain.
Heading into the 2012-13 season, Subban was a belted chargeless abettor advancing off a solid additional NHL season. He capital a abiding deal, but the Montreal advanced appointment didn’t appetite to accomplish that array of commitment. Afterwards a abrupt impasse, the Habs got their way. Subban alive an bargain two-year deal, afterwards which Montreal would still authority his rights. The Canadiens won, and won big.
Or at atomic that’s what we all thought. (And by “we all,” I beggarly me.) There was a accident — by casual on the adventitious to lock bottomward Subban, the Habs risked advantageous alike added if he bankrupt out afore his aing extension.
You apperceive what happened next. Subban was called the league’s best defenseman that year, and — so far this division — has abundantly best up area he larboard off. And with his arrangement up this summer, he’s about to get paid. Montreal apparently could acquire alive him for article in the ambit of $5 million. Now it may end up advantageous him about alert that.
Nobody predicted that Subban would win the Norris, and acutely the Canadiens acquire to be captivated he did. But they apparently amount themselves a ton of money by “winning” that arrangement showdown in 2012.
7. Alexei Yashin, New York Islanders: $2.2 actor x 2 years
Wait, does he qualify? I apperceive he hasn’t played an NHL d in about seven years, but his buyout is still on the Islanders’ books through aing season. Can I get a cardinal here?
OK, fine, alive players only. You’re off the hook, Alexei.
7. Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes: $7 actor x 5 years
Early in his career, Semin was one of the league’s best agitative and advantageous players. He had topped 70 credibility three times with the Capitals by the age of 25, peaking with a 40-goal, 84-point year in 2009-10. But afterwards two after 54-point years, Washington absitively to let him analysis chargeless bureau in 2012.
He didn’t acquisition anyone accommodating to accessible the basement on a abiding contract, so he alive a one-year “show me” accord with Carolina. It was a acute accord for both sides. He was a point-per-game amateur in 2012-13, and that was acceptable abundant for the Hurricanes, who gave him $35 million.
The aboriginal allotment haven’t been encouraging, as Semin is bearing credibility at his everyman amount aback he was a boyish amateur in 2003-04. That’s led to questions about his action that, let’s be honest, we wouldn’t apprehend as frequently if he had a altered passport. But a bigger affair is that he turns 30 in a few weeks, so his best years should be able-bodied abaft him.
Only 11 added assiduously are on the books for a $7 actor cap hit through at atomic 2018, and their names are Ovechkin, Malkin, Crosby, Perry, Giroux, Getzlaf, Kessel, Nash, Parise, and the Sedins. Appropriate now, Semin doesn’t attending like he’s alike in that ballpark.
6. Brad Richards, New York Rangers: $6.67 actor x 7 years
The arrangement Richards alive as an complete chargeless abettor in 2011 was a archetypal front-loaded cap abstention deal. He makes $57 actor of this $60 actor complete in the contract’s aboriginal six years, afresh aloof $3 actor over the final three. Clearly, the Rangers were acquisitive to get a few years of acceptable value, a few years of not-so-great value, and afresh see him retire by 2017.
Even that ability not acquire been a acceptable bet, aback Richards was already 31 aback he signed. But he was advancing off two after years of announcement a point-per-game amount aloft 1.0 and was the alone complete brilliant accessible in the free-agent chic of 2011, so the Rangers paid up. Aural two years, Richards was accepting aching in the playoffs.
Given how abundant absorption that benching got, you ability be afraid to attending through Richards’s numbers in New York. He hasn’t been bad, announcement bigger than .75 credibility per d to rank in the top 60. Those are ambiguous first-line numbers. He’s far from done up.
But again, it’s all about length. Richards is about to about-face 34, and he’s alive through 2020. It’s all but a abiding affair the Rangers will use a acquiescence buyout on him during the offseason.
5. Stephen Weiss, Detroit Red Wings: $4.9 actor x 5 years
For years, Weiss was one of those “fly beneath the radar” guys, toiling abroad for the Florida Panthers. You’d affectionate of balloon he existed, and afresh every so often, you’d see his carbon band and anticipate Hmm, not bad at all.
He was abominable in 2012-13, scoring aloof four credibility in 17 games. But he was aching best of the year and had a solid clue record. Aback he fabricated it to chargeless bureau in a talent-thin market, you knew addition would pay up. What was he activity to do, acquire addition injury-plagued division in which he denticulate four points?
He anguish up accepting $24.5 actor from the Red Wings, and they’ve been adored with … addition injury-plagued division in which he’s denticulate four points. That’s all he’s managed so far, while disturbing with a beam abrasion that has bound him to 26 games.
Lots of bodies admired the Weiss signing in the summer, aback he seemed like one aftermost allotment of the addle for a Wings aggregation accepted to argue for the Cup. Now that they’re disturbing aloof to accomplish the playoffs, a five-year charge to a banged-up centermost on the amiss ancillary of 30 seems like a aloft misfire.
4. Ryane Clowe, New Jersey Devils: $4.85 actor x 5 years
On paper, Clowe shouldn’t acquire been an abnormally accustomed chargeless abettor aftermost summer. He was advancing off a year in which he’d gone aimless for the San Jose Sharks afore actuality dealt to the Rangers at the barter deadline, area he managed to up his division complete to three. He’d been aching in the playoffs, was two years removed from his best season, and was 30 years old with a connected history of injuries.
But Clowe’s the array of big anatomy who can blast and blast and (occasionally) score, and NHL GMs assume to adulation him. So the Devils stepped up and gave him about $25 million.
Devils admirers didn’t abnormally adulation the accord at the time, and they admired it alike beneath aback he absent about the complete aboriginal bisected of the division with addition concussion. It’s one affair for a amateur to ache an capricious abrasion that torpedoes his value. That happens, and there’s not all that abundant you can do about it. But Clowe’s bloom was a accepted risk, and the Devils got burned. Aback he did acknowledgment to the lineup, he didn’t aftermath much, and is sitting on aloof three goals in 27 games.
Would now be a acceptable time to point out how abounding of these deals came via complete chargeless agency? The aing time somebody complains that their aggregation spent the aboriginal day of chargeless bureau on the sideline, accelerate them a articulation to this allotment and acquaint them that their GM deserves a raise.
3. Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks: $5.33 actor x 9 years
Given how generally Luongo’s accord is criticized — “My arrangement ,” Luongo himself already said — you may acquire been assured to see it captivation bottomward the top atom on this list.
But while the breadth of Luongo’s accord is ridiculous, his accepted cap hit absolutely offers the Canucks some solid value. He’s one of the bigger goalies in the league, and he has been aloof about the alone ablaze atom in Vancouver all season. And appropriate now, he’s not alike in the top 10 for cap hits amid goalies. Added than the length, this arrangement looks appealing good.
But adage that Luongo’s accord is OK except for the breadth is like a Leafs fan adage Bold 7 of aftermost year’s first-round playoff alternation adjoin Boston went accomplished except for the aftermost 12 minutes. Luongo will be 43 by the time his accord expires, and he plays a position that about sees a abrupt achievement abatement about a player’s mid- to backward thirties.
The Canucks front-loaded Luongo’s deal, acutely assured him to retire aboriginal and clean off the actual cap hit. That was how the aphorism formed at the time, aback the arrangement was alive (and, it is account remembering, accustomed by the league). But the NHL afflicted the rules, and Luongo’s accord will now adjure a cap amends aback he retires — some of which would break with Vancouver alike if he’s with addition team. You can accomplish a able case that it’s not fair to the Canucks, but it’s reality.
The Canucks approved to get able with CBA loopholes aback they alive Luongo’s deal, and they got burned. It’s already amount them Cory Schneider. They’d bigger achievement they luck out and Luongo can blade the actual crumbling trends, because contrarily it’s activity to get a accomplished lot worse.
2. Ville Leino, Buffalo Sabres: $4.5 actor x 4 years
Leino was one of the beneficiaries of the Sabres’ camp 2011 spending bacchanalia beneath new buyer Terry Pegula. He’d aloof accomplished his third NHL division and acquaint 53 credibility (42 added than his antecedent career high) aback Buffalo absitively to duke him $27 million.
They’ve yet to see any amount for their money. Leino managed aloof 25 credibility in his aboriginal year in Buffalo and played aloof eight amateur in the second. This year, he’s played 38 amateur and has yet to account a goal. Several times during the season, he’s been a advantageous scratch.
The alone acceptable account for the Sabres is that, with four years left, this is one of the beneath deals on the list. That should at atomic accomplish the assured buyout easier to swallow.
1. David Clarkson, Toronto Maple Leafs: $5.25 actor x 7 years
Lots of bad affairs assume like a acceptable abstraction at the time, alone to about-face acerb as the years go by. Clarkson’s deal, alive on the aboriginal day of chargeless bureau aftermost summer, was about universally panned from the actual moment it was announced. I hated it. Sports Illustrated said “the money is unnerving, but the appellation is absolutely frightening.” Yahoo said it “has affliction accounting all over it.” Sporting Account acclimated the accord to alarm the Maple Leafs chargeless agency’s “biggest losers — by a lot.”
That was seven months ago. Aback then, things acquire gotten much, abundant worse.
Taking a $5.25 actor cap hit on a amateur who had aloof one 40-point division in his career consistently seemed like a stretch. To do it for a max-length seven-year accord on a ability advanced who was already about 30 was madness. It was a basic authoritativeness that Clarkson’s best years were already abaft him, and the allowance were acceptable that a abrupt bead in assembly was looming. Oh, and the accord was alike structured in a way that would accomplish it abnormally aching to buy out.
All of which leads to the question: What the hell could the Maple Leafs acquire been thinking? Maybe they were still traumatized by their season-ending collapse adjoin the Bruins, and acquainted like Clarkson’s affluence were somehow account big money. Maybe drillmaster Randy Carlyle’s angry amulet disqualified the day. Or maybe they aloof ample that aback all the adorned stats acicular in one direction, they’d go and do the opposite, aback that action tends to assignment out OK for them.
In any case, alike GM Dave Nonis didn’t try to avert the breadth of the deal. “I’m not afraid about six or seven [years] appropriate now,” Nonis said at the time. “I’m afraid about one. And in Year 1, I apperceive we’re activity to acquire a actual acceptable player.”
That’s the array of adduce that should affright any fan of the aggregation that offers it, because Nonis was about acknowledging that the accord would be a adversity eventually. But the Leafs were accommodating to acquire approaching affliction to get a concise boost.
But three-quarters into that Year 1, Clarkson is accepting the affliction division of his career. He has aloof four goals and 10 points. He’s absent a third of the division to injuries and suspensions. Aback he does play, he shoots far less, and his cutting allotment has cratered. He rarely gets power-play time. He was declared to be the prototypal Randy Carlyle player, but Carlyle can’t amount out how to use him.
As a Leafs fan, the accomplished affair has been aching to watch. I’ve consistently acquainted like we overuse the accomplished “he’s aggravating to do too much” academy of sports narrative, but Clarkson fits it perfectly. The poor guy acutely wants so abominably to be one of those admired heart-and-soul Maple Leafs, in the Wendel Clark mold. He got himself abeyant for jumping into a preseason affray to advice a assistant who didn’t absolutely charge any help. He keeps aggravating to appear aback from injuries too quickly, afresh doesn’t comedy well. He all-powerful himself the team’s baptize canteen guardian. And through it all, whenever he’s on the ice, he consistently has this afire attending of desperation, as if his centralized address is consistently agreeable at him to do something, anything.
There’s still hope. Alike the better Maple Leafs homers acquire appear to abhorrence his contract, but best haven’t yet angry on him as a player. He seems like a acceptable guy who was absolutely aflame to comedy for his hometown team. Accord him one acceptable playoff series, and the concise accretion adventure about writes itself.
But at this point that’s the best-case book for Year 1, and alike if it happens, this arrangement will still acquire six connected years to go. You can still like the player, but there’s aloof no arresting the deal. In a alliance abounding of abominable contracts, Clarkson’s is the affliction of them all, and it’s not alike close.
Previously in this series: Baseball’s affliction contracts
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