Look, I understand that Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon needs to get his team to the salary cap floor of $48 million. With a team that has such a limited group of talent and is suffering from such a long playoff drought, it makes sense that the former Chicago Blackhawks general manager will need to overpay people to bring them to Sunrise, Florida.
That being said, couldn’t he have signed these bad contracts for one year rather than giving people stupid money for longer periods of time? Tomas Kopecky probably received $1 million too much per year to come to Florida with a four-year, $12 million deal, the team took on Brian Campbell’s ridiculous contract and now they gave Scottie Upshall a top-line forward deal of four years, $14 million.
Update: things have gotten even worse, apparently. Tallon brought Ed Jovanovski back to Florida with a ridiculous four-year, $16.5 million deal. There’s a neat nostalgic element to this signing because the Panthers made Jovanovski the first overall pick of the 1994 draft and he went on to help them make their one magical run to the 1996 Stanley Cup finals. That was a long time ago, though; Jovanovski has been an extremely injury-prone defenseman since he left Florida. He only played 50 games in 2010-11 and 66 in 09-10. While he showed some signs of health with Phoenix before that (82 games in 08-09 and 80 in 07-08) but six of his last eight seasons have been wrecked by injuries.
Upshall’s $3.5 million salary cap hit, Jose Theodore’s $1.5 million and Jovanovski’s $4.13 million will lift the Panthers’ number to about $47.4 million, leaving them less than one million short of that $48 million floor. All it cost them was a coherent roster and long-term plan to get there.
In case you wanted some re-emphasis, Upshall’s deal is not a very good deal at all, either. Both the term and the annual salary are out of whack for what can be reasonably expected of Upshall. He’s scored 22 goals once in his career (in 2010-11); other than that he’s been a guy whose speed hasn’t really produced much as far as results. (At least for $3.5 million per year.)
Again, we understand that the Panthers are in a bind, but these deals might put the team in a bad position once their prospects start to mature. In other words, this team could be in a similar (if less promising) situation as Tallon’s last team – the Chicago Blackhawks. That team saw simultaneous breakthroughs of prospects soon after he saddled the club with ugly contracts like those of Campbell and jettisoned goalie Cristobal Huet.
Upshall, Jovanovski and the rest of the Panthers might prove us wrong in the long run, but from the looks of things, they’re not spending their money very wisely.