Even with an NHL lockout underway and the entire season up in the air, teams are continuing to spend money locking up or extending their players before the new CBA goes into full effect.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top five lockout spenders via signing bonuses according to Capgeek.com.
When you are a NHL team coming off a season in which you missed the playoffs, more often than not that team will spend all kinds of money to improve their hockey club.
This is the case when it comes to the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres have spent $20.75 million in terms of signing bonuses, according to Capgeek.com, meaning the franchise is paying close to a third of their 2012-13 payroll whether there is hockey or not.
The Sabres have $10 million locked-up in defenceman Tyler Myers. Myers, going into his fourth season in the NHL, has racked up 108 points (29 goals and 79 assists) in 217 games. That being said, since his rookie campaign of 48 points Myers’ numbers have decreased to 37 and 23, respectively.
Another Sabres’ defenceman raking in the bonus money is Christian Ehrhoff, who is being paid $5 million in bonuses. In his first season with the Sabres, Ehrhoff, had 32 points (5 goals and 27 assists) in 66 games. Not great for the amount of money the Sabres’ are paying him.
Sabres’ forward Ville Leino is earning $4 million in bonuses. So far, Leino is proving he’s worth that amount, posting just 25 points (8 goals and 17 assists) in 71 games last season.
Rounding out the $20.75 million is defenceman Andrej Sekera, who is earning $1.75 million via signing bonuses. Sekera had 13 points (3 goals and 10 assists) in 69 games last season.
Minnesota had an interesting off-season to say the least, signing perhaps the two biggest unrestricted free agents on the market in forward Zach Parise and defenceman Ryan Suter.
In fact, it’s these two players that combine for the $20.1 million that the team is paying in bonuses, as each player is earning $10 million via signing bonuses. Parise is a dynamic forward who can put the puck in the net, create scoring opportunities, forecheck, play on the power play and penalty kill and block shots.
Suter is no slouch either. The 27-year-old spent his first seven seasons with the Nashville Predators, helping to form a great defensive/offensive punch with Shea Weber.
For that kind of money, the Wild better hope it pays off.
Much like the Wild, the Nashville Predators also had quite the off-season.
In the beginning of the unrestricted free agency season, the Philadelphia Flyers signed Shea Weber to a $110 million, 14-year offer sheet. Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly depending on how you look at it, the Predators matched it and locked-up their franchise defenceman for what could be the rest of his career.
The Predators are paying Weber $13 million in signing bonuses. Weber has 263 points (99 goals and 164 assists) in 480 games. He plays in all situations for the team and is a great leader on and off the ice for the franchise.
The Tampa Bay Lightning is coming off a season in which they regressed after advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010-11.
The Lightning missed the postseason last season, finishing 10th in the Conference with 84 points, eight points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. This was surprising considering the amount of offensive firepower the club has.
Speaking of firepower, the Lightning is paying $10.59 million in signing bonuses to some of their ammo. First off, to 60-goal scorer Steven Stamkos. Stamkos is the team’s franchise and is worth every penny.
The team is paying newly-acquired defenceman Matt Carle $3 million in signing bonuses. The Lightning signed Carle to a six-year worth $33 million. Carle had 38 points (4 goals and 34 assists) last season with the Philadelphia Flyers, two points away from his career high of 40 points.
Forward Martin St. Louis is being paid $2 million in signing bonuses. St. Louis, who won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning back in 2004, continues to be one of the league’s top producers season after season.
The club is also paying young defenceman Victor Hedman $1.5 million in bonuses. Hedman, 21, has been in the league for three seasons and continues to show improvement each year. With that said, he will need to take a big step forward if he wants to keep being paid handsomely by the Lightning.
After the winning the Cup in 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks have been inconsistent.
The team has failed to advance past the first round in each of the last two seasons. With that said, they certainly have the talent and players to do so.
The Blackhawks are paying $10.26 million in signing bonuses. Forward Patrick Sharp is being paid $4 million via signing bonus, coming off a 69 point (33 goals and 36 assists) campaign in 74 games and has combined for 140 points in his last two seasons.
The Hawks other major signing bonuses belong to Brent Seabrook ($2 million) and Duncan Keith ($1.5 million), respectively. Seabrook had 34 points (9 goals and 25 assists) while Keith had 40 (4 goals and 36 assists.
The three players mentioned above, along with the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Corey Crawford, all need to bring their game to a new level in the upcoming season if they want to be Cup contenders.