By Todd Singer @breakingbadfish on July 10, 2014
Now that the NHL free agent frenzy has tapered off and most of the best free agents have come off the board, it's time to take an account of the top deals that won't pan out as expected. As in every free agency period, dollars are thrown around like confetti at a ticker tape parade, and some teams are left surprised by sticker shock while others pay no mind to the salary cap. Here are the top 10 deals that won't pan out as expected.
While Glass' deal pales in comparison with some of the others on this list, so does his appreciable skill level. Glass is more of an agitator and a tough guy than he is a skill player, but his Corsi rating for puck possession was one of the lowest in the league last season and brings almost nothing to the table from an offensive standpoint. While this is not a cap-crippling contract, it's a deal New York may regret in a few seasons.
Matt Moulson signed with the Buffalo Sabres, the team he was dealt to early last season before being flipped to the Minnesota Wild at the trading deadline. While Moulson has shown himself to be an accomplished goal-scorer, many of his goals came with John Tavares centering his line. There is no one close to Tavares in Buffalo, and Moulson doesn't bring much else to the table beyond his ability to score in front of the net, making this an overpay.
The Devils lavished Cammalleri with the same contract that Moulson got, but Cammalleri hasn't been nearly as consistent as Moulson and is also a few years older. Last year, "Cammy" broke the 20-goal barrier for the first time in four seasons, but he's more or less a one-dimensional player like Moulson. Cammalleri's production will likely decline as he ages during the life of this contract making it a very questionable deal.
No one can question Brian Gionta's leadership qualities as he captained the Montreal Canadiens to within a few games of the Stanley Cup Final. However, Gionta's on-ice production has suffered greatly in recent years which has coincided with his reaching his mid-30s. Gionta was never much of a playmaker in Montreal, and with his declining goal scoring totals, this could be a deal that doesn't pan out as Buffalo expects.
No one is really sure what the Canucks are doing. One day they're trading veterans for draft picks, the next day they're trading draft picks for role players. To cap that off, they signed the 33-year-old Miller, who struggled mightily in his half-season in St. Louis, to a three-year deal. For a team that doesn't seem to be clear whether they're rebuilding or restocking, Miller probably isn't the greatest idea, even if he is a Vancouver native.
This was a very profitable offseason for former Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen, including Deryk Engelland. Engelland is known for his rugged style of play, but he is more of a third-pairing defenseman who's questionable in his own zone. Engelland offers virtually nothing on the offensive side of the puck and his defense can be suspect at times, making the three-year deal that Calgary gave him quite the head-scratcher.
Following the trend of overpaid former Penguins, Matt Niskanen got the largest contract of the offseason from the Washington Capitals. Niskanen finished 12th among NHL defensemen in scoring this season which undoubtedly influenced Washington brass, but his production came in large part from the Penguins' skilled forwards finishing his passes. Niskanen isn't a great one-on-one defender, and the Caps will likely come to rue this deal.
Benoit Pouliot translated a one-year deal with the Rangers into a Stanley Cup Final appearance and a five-year deal with Edmonton in free agency. While Pouliot played a big role in the Blueshirts' success last season, he's never topped 40 points in a season and is considered by many to be no more than a third-line forward. Paying that kind of money to a bottom half forward is not a great idea for any team, let alone the perennial doormat Oilers.
Rounding out the crazy deals handed out to former Penguins' D-men is Brooks Orpik. The Capitals must've loved what they saw from an often times suspect Penguins defensive corps as they spent nearly $ 70 million on Orpik and Niskanen. Orpik has seen better days and his ability to stay with quicker forwards wanes by the year. Paul Martin covered many of Orpik's discrepancies in Pittsburgh, but Washington doesn't have that luxury.
Although no fault of his own, Dave Bolland is the top candidate to have his deal not live up to expectations. Bolland has turned his role in the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup title two years ago into a huge free agent deal from the Florida Panthers, who spent recklessly this offseason. Bolland missed a good deal of last season and only has 26 combined points in his last two seasons, making that contract laughable to many in the league.
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