Every year, on July 1st, all thirty teams in the NHL are allowed to begin signing free agents. The free agent frenzy is always entertaining, mainly due to the fact that there is no hockey being played in the NHL during the summer. When a team decides to acquire a player via free agency, it’s almost guaranteed that they will have to overpay to get that player on their team. It’s a harsh fact of life as a GM, but there’s no way to get around it. Typically, you can expect to see a player getting paid no more than $1.5 million more than he deserves, but with all the big names that are going to hit the open market this year, I’m sure we will be seeing a lot of dollars being thrown at undeserving players.
Teams in desperate need of offense or defense are going to be willing to throw boat-loads of money at players who won’t completely fix their problems. One of these players is Thomas Vanek. Vanek played for 3 different teams this year (Sabres, Islanders & Canadiens) and he will most certainly be wearing yet another teams jersey when the season starts back up. Vanek made $7.1 million this year, but he was almost certainly not worth it considering that he only scored 68 points. I’ll go ahead and break it down for you; Vanek made $264,550,926 dollars for every goal he scored, 27 in total, and $105,042,015 for every point that he scored. He wasn’t worth the money he made this year, but he’ll still be able to find a team that’s willing to sign him to a similar contract just because of his name. I believe that Thomas Vanek is worth about $5.5 million a year, but I’m positive that he’ll be able to find a team willing to give him at least $6.75 a year, if not more. Another players who’s bound to be payed too much is Paul Stastny. Stastny made $6.6 million this year, which equates to $100,000 per point for him, 60 in total. To put those numbers in perspective, Sidney Crosby made $8.7 million this year to go along with 104 points, or $83,652 per point. I believe that Stastny was payed a bit too much on his current contract, but it’s nothing compared to how much he will be over payed when (and if) he hits the open market. There are a good number of teams looking for a top-tier center, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues, and many others. Because of the success Stastny has had in the past, teams will sign him to a deal that could see him making $8 million per year, when really he’s worth about $6 million because of his play without the puck.
There are a lot of teams in dire need of defense, like the New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, Edmonton Oilers, and many others. These teams haven’t been able to find everything they’re looking for through the draft and through trade, and they need immediate help. Because of this, they will be willing to overpay defensemen like Matt Niskanen and Dan Boyle. Niskanen had a great season with the Pittsburgh Penguins this year, but it was the 1st year that I thought I really saw him become a game-changing defenseman. He made $2.3 million this season, which was actually a lot less than what he’s worth, which I believe is about $5 million. But teams who want to get better are going to shower him with cash, and I believe that if he signs with a team like the Islanders or the Panthers, he could be getting as much as $7 million a year. Dan Boyle is 37 years old and doesn’t seem to have too much gas left in the tank, but he’s still a good defenseman. An ideal contract would be for 2 years and $3.75 million per, and if he signs with a legitimate contender like the Rangers, he may even get less money than that. But if Boyle decides to sell out and become a ‘veteran presence’ on a bad team, he could fetch about $5 million per year.
All in all, teams always get shortchanged when they take the free agent route. But still, players get signed and they get signed for too much. I believe that the player who will get way too much money is Thomas Vanek. I’m not much of a fan of Vanek, mainly for his poor defense and his ability to play without the puck, but that doesn’t seem to stop people from paying up.