The 6 biggest UFA busts of the 2016 off-season so far

It took 13 games, but finally, the New York Islanders' big off-season acquisition in Andrew Ladd finally cashed in his first goal of the season on Monday.

There’s a lot of stress attached to buying presents this time of year, but the good news is, if you miss the mark on a product, it’s kind of someone else’s problem once you wrap it up and give it away.

NHL general managers aren’t so lucky, though.

Their shopping season, of course, lands in early summer when unrestricted free agents hit the open market. The past couple off-seasons have actually gone a long way toward reversing the historical trend of drunken-sailor spending, as the men in charge of writing cheques seem to be finding previously untapped reserves of restraint.

But there is still some bad business being conducted.

With that in mind, we present the half-dozen biggest UFA busts of a season that can almost see its halfway point.

Andrew Ladd, New York Islanders
7 years, $38.5 million, $5.5-million cap hit

Not many people liked this deal when it was signed and it’s only gotten more grotesque since. Ladd didn’t score until his 13th game of the season and has found the net just three times this year, to go along with three assists. That’s a whopping nine-goal, 18-point pace for a man who hasn’t had less than 23 tallies in any of the past six non-lockout seasons.

Things have to get better from here, right?

Loui Eriksson, Vancouver Canucks
6 years, $36 million, $6-million cap hit

Eriksson to the Canucks would have made all kinds of sense in the summer of 2010. But Eriksson joining a going-nowhere Vancouver club last summer so he could skate beside the Sedins was head-scratching development from the word go (with the understanding that agreeing to play hockey for heaps of money is always a defensible choice).

Eriksson likely won’t hit the 20-goal plateau this year and his contract could become a real burden should the Canucks ever do the prudent thing and commit to a youth-driven rebuild.

Mikkel Boedker, San Jose Sharks
4 years, $16 million, $4-million cap hit

Unlike the first two marriages on this list, Boedker to the Sharks for a reasonable number seemed like a nice fit. The 26-year-old Dane has essentially played at a 50-point pace in each of the past four seasons, but has fallen of a cliff in California with just five points—five!—in 28 games this year under his old major junior coach, Pete DeBoer.

No San Jose forward who’s played the entire season has been less productive than Boedker.

James Reimer, Florida Panthers
5 years, $17 million, $3.4-million cap hit

When healthy, Reimer has been an above-average goalie during his career. Last season, he posted a .922 save percentage overall and a .938 mark in eight outings after his trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs (a bad team) to the Sharks (a team that made the Cup final.)

It seemed as though Reimer was an ideal candidate to start the 25-30 games a season required for No. 1 stopper Roberto Luongo to rest his weary bones. The league’s nicest guy, though, has had a rough time in FLA, posting an ugly .894 save percentage in nine outings.

Joe Colborne, Colorado Avalanche
2 years, $5 million, $2.5-million cap hit

For one shining moment, this seemed like the move of the off-season. Colborne buried a hat trick in his Avalanche debut, stoking hopes that a 19-goal breakout campaign with the Calgary Flames last year was a harbinger of things to come for the six-foot-five forward. Instead, it’s starting to look like he was just knocking out all of his scoring responsibilities for the entire year in one game.

Colborne has not found the net since opening night and has about as many healthy scratches on his resume this year as goals.

Carter Hutton, St. Louis Blues
2 years, $2.25 million, $1.125-million cap hit

While high-stakes deals that blow up in your face are the toughest to swallow, it’s still a problem when the low-risk ones go sideways, too.

For years, the Blues have depended on goalie tandems to handle the crease responsibilities. Based on a .910 save percentage the past three years, Hutton was supposed to be able to provide at least some support for Jake Allen in the latter’s first season handling a big-time workload. Instead, Hutton has struggled in St. Louis, registering a gruesome .888 mark.

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