The hockey world tends to focus on the most regrettable contracts rather than the best ones because let’s face it: it’s more enjoyable to make fun of Brian Campbell‘s deal than to linger on Dustin Brown‘s bargain contract. That being said, clever GMs deserve credit for either finding the right timing to sign a player, judging their value better than most or simply fostering a climate in which a player will take a pay cut. This series of posts will take a look at every team to see which (if any) players deserve to be called bargains.
Notes: entry-level deals don’t count because they have built-in maximum levels. “Loophole” contracts will be considered, but they won’t receive as much consideration because of their inherent salary cap dishonesty. Bought out players will be considered for their current cap hits. I also think $6 million is a reasonable – if arbitrary – cutoff point for a true bargain player.
Anaheim Ducks – Every dollar counts with this cost-conscious team.
Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf ($5.325 million each) – The two power forwards have been intrinsically linked ever since they came up through the Ducks system together. Getzlaf had the upper hand for quite some time – and it’s possible he still might be better in the long view – but Perry is the one with the Hart Trophy on his resume. Either way, they consist of 2/3 of the scariest line in the NHL.
Bobby Ryan ($5.1M) – Ryan completes that trio at a slightly lower price. The American born power forward’s career trajectory keeps pointing upward as he scored a career-high 71 points last season.
Dallas Stars – Speaking of cost-conscious teams, the Stars lost Brad Richards but that won’t end their money troubles. They better sell the team somewhat soon because their budding star Jamie Benn is in the final year of his entry-level deal.
Loui Eriksson ($4.1M) Can you be an All-Star and yet remain underrated? Probably not, but Eriksson is a close example. We’ll see if he can maintain his largely unheralded scoring ways without Richards feeding him perfect passes.
Stephane Robidas ($3.3M) – He might not be an ideal top defenseman, but the Stars expect him to act the part. Robidas’ can do a little of everything fairly well.
Alex Goligoski ($1.83M) – The former Penguins defenseman is a bit of an adventure in his own end, but he provides the offensive boost the Stars asked for when they traded James Neal to get him.
Honorable mentions – Kari Lehtonen nearly saved the Stars’ season last year, but he needs to prove that his injury-prone ways are a thing of the past. Sheldon Souray’s lack of foot speed could doom him, but his slapper could make him easier to forgive.
Simon Gagne ($3.5M) – If Gagne can stay reasonably healthy – a big if, especially since the Kings seem to carry an injury hex of their own – he could be a very nice bargain for Los Angeles.
Dustin Brown ($3.2M) – The Kings’ captain draws a ton of penalties, throws a lot of hits and scores plenty of goals. Amazingly, his bargain deal will continue until July 2014 – that’s three more seasons at a reduced rate.
Jonathan Quick ($1.8M) – A lot of people are rooting for fellow cheap young goalie Jonathan Bernier to usurp him, but Quick turned in a 35-win season and put up the kind of save percentage (.918) that will make it hard for anyone to steal his job. I thought he was just a workhorse goalie going into 2010-11, but now I’m sold.
Honorable mention: Mike Richards’ two-way play should make him worth $5.7 million, but it’s enough money that he might not be a steal (especially since his numbers might not be that great at times in Los Angeles’ tight system).
Phoenix Coyotes – Are the ‘Yotes in trouble after losing crucial goalie Ilya Bryzgalov? I’m sorry to say that it might be the case.
Keith Yandle ($5.25M) – I know that his contract isn’t cheap, but Yandle’s been a star for the Coyotes. Hopefully the loss of Breezy and the increase in pressure from a new deal won’t ruin his mojo.
Lauri Korpikoski ($1.8M) – The Korpedo had a career year in 2010-11, with 19 goals and 40 points. Hovering around the 20-goal mark would make his contract a nice value.
Honorable mentions: Mike Smith will be a steal if he pans out, but that’s a big if. Martin Hanzal is a big center who makes life difficult for some of the Pacific Division’s best scorers.
Joe Pavelski ($4M) – The “Big Pavelski” is responsible defensively and increasingly dangerous on offense, scoring a career-high 66 points last season.
Brent Burns ($3.5M) – For one more season, the All-Star defenseman will be a bargain.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic ($3.1M) – The Pickle remains a nice asset, even if his offensive numbers might not rebound to his 2008-09 form.
Colin White ($1M) – Like Scott Hannan, his flaws are easier to accept at $1 million.
Honorable mention: Ryane Clowe seemed overpaid before last season only to put together one of hist best campaigns.
Feel free to point out any glaring omissions or faulty inclusions. Again, remember: players on their entry-level deals don’t count, so that’s why you won’t see the Logan Coutures of the world.