In today’s salary cap world, getting value from the players you pay the most money to is crucial to succeed. Teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes have seen the downside this season.
However, it’s hard to criticize the individual players for accepting deals that largely exceed their worth. A player such as David Clarkson was routinely ripped in Toronto, but was it really his fault the Maple Leafs offered him that contract?
At the same time, Clarkson would have been an obvious choice for one of the NHL’s most overpaid players, but we decided to exclude him since he’s out for the season with an injury.
Our list below was based on a few factors: salary cap hit, production, and contract term. Based on that criteria, here are five of the NHL’s most overpaid players this season:
5) Dion Phaneuf, Toronto Maple Leafs In terms of pure production, Phaneuf is not living up to his contract. The Leafs captain has an annual salary cap hit of $7 million, but is not producing at an all-star level or really anything close to it. He has just 28 points and is a minus-11 in 62 games. Frankly, he is miscast in Toronto as a No. 1 defenceman and is asked to do too much — which is why he’s become such a polarizing figure. In the right situation, Phaneuf could be a valuable player. But since he’s being paid like a franchise-level defenceman, it’s difficult not to include him on the list.
4) Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes Staal’s contract indicates that he is a franchise-level player, but his production says otherwise. He’s no longer the impactful offensive force he was earlier in his career. And that isn’t good when you have a cap hit of $8.25 million per season. Staal has just 44 points in 67 games and does not have impressive possession numbers. Sure, his team isn’t very good, but that’s not enough of an excuse to ignore his declining offensive numbers.
3) Dave Bolland, Florida Panthers Bolland is an average third-line centre at this point in his career, but his $5.5 million cap hit doesn’t help his case. Bolland is being paid like a top-six forward and the gritty 28-year-old has a grand total of four goals on the season. His offensive totals don’t paint the whole picture because he’s not really much of an offensive threat at this level. Bolland supporters often point to his leadership, toughness, or intangibles, but that’s not enough to justify his inflated salary.
2) Mike Smith, Arizona Coyotes Goaltenders used to excel in Dave Tippett’s system, but Mike Smith’s play has quickly deteriorated. Since signing a six-year contract extension worth $34 million in July of 2013, Smith has been a shell of his former self. The 2014 Olympian has just 11 wins in 54 games with even more troublesome peripheral numbers (.902 save percentage and 3.17 goals-against average.) It’s hard to imagine the Coyotes don’t regret locking up Smith until the 2018-19 season at an average salary cap hit of $5.66 million.
1) Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes Staal isn’t the only Hurricane on this list. Semin has one of the worst contracts in hockey. The Russian forward has three more seasons left on his deal with a cap hit of $7 million. All the Hurricanes have gotten in return this season is a measly four goals in 48 games. Injuries haven’t been to blame either as Semin has frequently been a healthy scratch and hasn’t meshed well with first-year head coach Bill Peters. Semin has plenty of natural talent, but the lack of production makes him the most overpaid player in the league.