More than one quarter into the 2011-12 NHL season, it’s time to have a look at the most overpaid NHLers who don’t contribute as much as their team and the general manger who signed them would like. Please note that I have not included players whose contract is buried in the AHL or oversees such as Jeff Finger, Rotislav Olesz, Wade Redden and Cristobal Huet. Players are listed by team alphabetical order and by cap hit.
Lubomir Visnovsky, Anaheim – $5,600,000 cap hit After his best offensive season in the NHL, during which he scored a league-leading 68 points among defensemen, Visnovsky has been a big disappointment this year in Anaheim. The talented rearguard had only four points in 16 games before he sustained a broken thumb that will put him on the shelf for at least a month.
Ville Leino, Buffalo – $4,500,000 cap hit Signed to a six-year deal as a free agent by the Sabres this summer, Leino has been a major disappointment in Buffalo. With only 6 points and a -5 differential in 24 games this season, Leino is considered the worst free-agent signing of 2011.
Jay Bouwmeester, Calgary – $6,680,000 cap hit Acquired from Florida by the Flames before the 2009-10 season, Bouwmeester’s offence has always been overrated, having never broke the 50-point barrier in a single season. Entering the third year of his five-year contract, Bouwmeester has only one goal and six assists for seven points in 23 games.
Eric Staal, Carolina – $8,250,000 cap hit Coming off a very good season, during which the Hurricanes captain recorded 76 points in 81 games, Staal has been slumping badly this season without his former line-mate Erik Cole, who has signed a multi-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens. Staal has a league-worse -18 ratio to go along with only 12 points in 26 games.
Tomas Kaberle, Carolina – $4,250,000 cap hit Signed as a free agent by Carolina in the off-season after winning the Stanley Cup with the Bruins, Kaberle has only one goal and 13 assists for 14 points in 49 games since he got traded by the Maple Leafs last season. The offensive defenseman has zero goal this season to go with a dismal -12 ratio.
Ed Jovanovski, Florida – $4,125,000 cap hit Signed as a free agent to a four-year contract by Florida this summer, Jovocop is more like a mall guard these days. With only five points in 23 games this season, Jovanovski has seen his offensive output decline steadily since his 51-point campaign in 2007-08. The oft-injured rearguard finished 2010-11 with only 14 points in 50 games with Phoenix.
Dustin Penner, Los Angeles – $4,250,000 cap hit Entering the last year of a five-year deal he signed with the Oilers, the Penner experiment has been a major failure with the Kings. The oversized forward’s production has been nearly non-existent this season with only two assists in fourteen games, before he sustained a hand injury.
Marek Zidlicky, Minnesota – $4,000,000 cap hit The oft-injured Zidlicky missed 36 contests last season due to injury, recording only 24 points in 46 games. This year, Zidlicky’s production has been almost non-existent; in 18 games, the offensive-minded rearguard has zero goal and six assists for only six points.
Scott Gomez, Montreal – $7,357,143 cap hit Acquired prior to the 2009-10 season by Montreal, Gomez had an average year two years ago, recording 59 points in 78 games. However, since then, his play has been declining fast. Last year, he only managed seven goals and 38 points in 80 games, while the season he has yet to score a goal (4 assists) in 13 games. He’s currently sidelined with a groin injury.
Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey – $6,666,667 cap hit After signing a very expensive 15-year contract prior to the 2010-11 season, Kovalchuk’s production has been subpar at best. Known as a point-per-game player in Atlanta, Kovalchuk finished with only 60 points in 81 games last year, while this season, the Russian sniper has only scored four goals and 13 points in 17 contests with the Devils. This contract could prove very costly, as the Devils are rumoured to be bankrupted and all-star Zach Parise is slated to become a free agent at season’s end.
Brian Rolston, New York Islanders – $5,062,500 cap hit Acquired from the Devils in the off-season for his veteran leadership, Rolston’s production has been in steady decline since the 2005-06 campaign during which he recorded 79 points with Minnesota. This year, Rolston has been mediocre at best, notching only three goals and three assists for six points in 20 games with the Islanders.
Rick Dipietro, NY Islanders – $4,500,000 cap hit Re-signed to a 15-year contract prior to the 2006-07 season, Dipietro’s career has been marred with injuries. This season, Dipietro has been healthy, but he has not played much losing his starting to veteran Evgeni Nabokov first, and then to back-up Al Montoya who has been playing well. he’s also been mediocre posting a 3.44 GAA and a pathetic .885 save % in only seven games.
Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia – $5,666,667 cap hit Acquired from the Coyotes before the season by the Flyers, Breezer has been colder than a winter night in January in Winnipeg. Bryzgalov, who was signed to a nine-year contract to stabilize the Flyers goaltending position has been more than shaky. In 15 starts, Breezer has eight wins with a subpar 2.89 GAA and a less than stellar .897 save %.
Paul Martin, Pittsburgh – $5,000,000 cap hit Signed as a free agent in the summer of 2010, Martin was brought for his steady and calm presence on the blue line. After a so-so campaign last year during which Martin managed 24 points in 77 games, the 30 year-old blue liner is having a tough season so far despite the Penguins’ success. Through 25 games, Martin has yet to find the back of the net, while adding only eight assists. He also has a team-worse -9 ratio.
Martin Havlat, San Jose – $5,000,000 cap hit Acquired in the off-season from the Wild for forward Dany Heatley, Havlat has had trouble adapting to his new team after a 62-point campaign in Minnesota last season. After 17 games, Havlat has scored only one goal and added eight assists for nine points in 17 games with the Sharks.
Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay – $7,727,273 cap hit Lecavalier was signed to a 11-year contract extension by Tampa Bay before the 2009-10 season. Lecavalier rewarded the Lightning with a paltry 70-point campaign in 2009-10 and an even less impressive season of 54 points in 2010-11. This season, Lecavalier has been inconsistent, scoring ten goals and adding seven assists for 17 points in 23 games, on pace for only 60 point, which is not enough for the face of the franchise.
Mike Komisarek, Toronto $4,500,000 cap hit After flourishing as a bruising defenseman alongside Andrei Markov, Komisarek joined the Maple Leafs as a free agent in 2009. This year, Komisarek had only one goal and three assists for four points in 18 games before breaking his arm. After being made a healthy scratch a few times, now Komisarek will be sidelined for almost eight weeks.
Keith Ballard, Vancouver $4,250,000 cap hit Currently in only the third year of a six-year deal, Ballard has been far from impressive since his acquisition from the Panthers. Ballard was often made a healthy scratch during the Canucks cup run last spring. So far this year, Ballard has only recorded a mere two points in 22 games to go along with a -6 plus/minus ratio.
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver $5,333,333 cap hit Luongo’s play has been slowly fading in recent years, and his inconsistency in last year’s playoffs has planted a seed of doubt in the mind of the Canucks fans. With ten more years to go to his twelve-year contract and this season, Luongo is the clear #1 goaltender in Vancouver. Well, not necessarily as youngster Corey Schneider has started the past six games and doesn’t want to give the job to the struggling Luongo. Bobby Loo has a back-up calibre GAA of 2.97 to go along with a borderline .900 save % in 13 games this season.
Alexander Semin, Washington $6,700,000 cap hit The unpredictable Russian had a slumping season under former head coach Bruce Boudreau, scoring only ten points in 22 games. Semin was even made a healthy scratch once. Now that Boudreau is gone, Semin should find his motivation back and start producing offensively if he wants to cash in big at season’s end as he is slated to become an unrestricted free agent.
Please note that I omitted players who have been injured most of the season such as Jason Blake, Kristian Huselius, Andy McDonald, Ryan Whitney and Andrei Markov.
If you think I missed an overpaid NHLer, please let me know in the comments section.
Fred is a freelance sports write and translator, as well as a featured Montreal Canadiens blogger on http://hockeyindependent.com/blog/ and a baseball columnist on http://www.dobberbaseball.com/. Fred also joined HabsAddict.com in time for the 2011-12 season.
About the Author: Working as a freelance sports writer and translator, Fred, 33, graduated from Laval University in Quebec City, earning a bachelor of translation in 2002. An avid fan of the Northeast division teams, he's also a long time fan of the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens. Fred also speaks fluently French and Spanish. http://twitter.com/FredPoulin98 www.traductions-quebec.com