The NHL is filled with lots of good and bad contracts. Good contracts can help a team save money, and spend elsewhere, making them a much better and more dangerous team, while bad contracts can do the exact opposite, making teams save money elsewhere. Today I will be looking at the 10 best contracts in the NHL. To do this I will be excluding ELC’s because this list would be almost all ELC’s. I am also trying to take into account length left on the contract. So those contracts that only have 1 year left after this season usually take a bump. Those that have 4+ years left of great value for a great player may get a rise in the standings. Let’s take a look at the top 10 contracts in the NHL!
It was very tough making a list of just 10 contracts. I originally had a list of 25 people and probably could have added 12 more easily. I should give these 6 honorable mentions.
John Klingberg and Brad Marchand: Both great players playing for under market value. I just didn’t think they were quite the caliber of some of the other guys, and Marchand is already turning 30, so 37-year-old Marchand at 6.7 mil may not be great.
Ryan Ellis, Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, and John Tavares: These 4 are all amazing players on AMAZING deals. However, they all got bumped down because of their term. Tavares has one of the best contracts in the league, but it expires this season. Pacioretty and Ellis both have 1 more year after this season. Mark Stone is the same deal. An elite winger for dirt cheap, but he needs a new contract this season.
10. Taylor Hall, 6 million, 2 Years remaining:
Taylor Hall is an amazing player. He is easily a top 5 winger in the league, and one of the best players out there. His play driving, and goal scoring ability are amazing. At 6 million per for Taylor Hall for 2 more years the New Jersey Devils are living the good life. Add in it only took a 2nd pair Dman (sorry Edmonton fans that is what he is) to get him, and you have yourself a steal. Hall is just so great at almost every part of his game. It’s amazing he only makes 6 million.
9. Roman Josi, 4 million, 2 Years remaining:
Roman Josi is the offensive defenseman any team needs. He is such a threat in the offensive zone. His defensive skills lack a little, but when you’re as talented as he is up front it really doesn’t matter. Having Josi at 4 million for 2 more years is one of the reasons the Preds are just so competitive. They have about 5 guys who could have potentially made this list, and were at least considered. The Predators have a great window to win now while elite talent like Josi is cheap.
8. Patrice Bergeron, 6.8 million, 4 Years remaining:
The reason this contract is on here is a mix of skill and term. 4 years is huge in bumping Patrice Bergeron up, and he is such a great player he is still being underpaid on this. Bergeron is one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL. He is also always near the top when it comes to possession. Teams have to throw everything they have at him to contain him, and he makes his team so much better. 6.8 million feels like he will still be underpaid for the duration of the 4 remaining years. Landing him a spot in the top 10.
7. Duncan Keith, 5.5 million, 4 Years remaining:
When Keith signed this deal it may have been a top 5, or even top 3. I have it at 7 because it is still very good. Duncan Keith is still a great #1D, although he may not be as good as he was 2-3 years ago. That is why having him locked up at probably half of what he could be making is massive for the Hawks, especially because they are always under a cap crunch. Without this Keith contract there is NO way the Hawks are anywhere near as competitive as they have been. It still has 4 more years after this one, in which all of those you would expect him to be underpaid.
6. Erik Karlsson, 6.5 million, 1 Year remaining:
This contract would be number one if it still had a few more years left. However, the Sens have had their fair share of underpaid Erik Karlsson. Next offseason he is due for a MASSIVE raise. The remainder of this season and next however, he will continue to be the best Dman on planet Earth while making 4-5 million less than he should. Karlsson’s contract is one of the best year to year, but only having 1 year remaining bumps this down a bit. I don’t think anyone is complaining about THIS contract though.
5. Sidney Crosby, 8.7 million, 7 Years remaining:
OK, I know what you may be thinking… “How can a guy being paid almost 9 million be on the best deals?” Easy. He is the 2nd best player in the world. Some may argue 1 still. (Personally I think McDavid has dethroned him, but oh well.) Either way, when you have a player like Sidney Crosby who is at worst the 2nd best player in the league, for SEVEN more years under 9 million… This contract got a massive bump from the length remaining. Pittsburgh won’t have to worry about re-signing their franchise player for a while. I don’t think I really need to talk about how great Crosby is. He’s won 2 Conn Smythe’s in 2 years. This seems like a no brainer contract to have on this list.
4. Nikita Kucherov, 4.7 million, 1 Year remaining:
Nikita Kucherov is the 3rd best player in the NHL. He is also the best winger by 100 miles and it is crazy that he still has another year at UNDER 5 million dollars. I don’t think I can hype this guy up enough. He is a franchise player who was picked in round 2! Kucherov is just amazing, and watching him and Stamkos together is one of the best things you can do. He is just so good, and even though he is due for a massive raise in 2019, the 1.5 years they have left with him here still makes him an easy fit for top 5 best contracts.
3. Oscar Klefbom, 4.1 million, 5 Years remaining:
Oscar Klefbom seems to be a very underrated player. Klefbom is a legit #1 D in the NHL, and probably a top 10 in the league. He is used so much by Edmonton, and rightfully so. Just a great all round player Edmonton has in him. Paying a top 10 Dman a tad over 4 million for 5 more years is an easy way to have him slot #3 in the best contracts. This is an amazing deal for the Oilers. Something they will need more of to balance out the poorer deals they have made (Lucic, Russell) and also the big extension. The Oilers have a real winner in Oscar Klefbom. If they can pick up a solid #2 guy they could have a real good D corps, and team overall.
2. Victor Hedman, 7.9 million, 7 Years remaining:
Victor Hedman is another guy who helped Tampa Bay out like crazy. He is the 2nd best Dman in the league, and is being paid just under 8 million for seven more years. This is a complete steal by Tampa, and the term makes this an easy top 2. I debated placing him #1, and could hear an argument for it too. His age is what ultimately made me place him here. I love everything about Hedman’s game. He is a crucial part to the Bolts, and will continue to be for the next 7 years. This contract is just too good to pass up. I don’t see how he is anything but underpaid for the entirety of this contract.
1. Aleksander Barkov, 5.9 million, 4 Years remaining:
This may come to a bit of a surprise to some people. However, Barkov is SO great. Easily a top 5 centre in this league it’s sometimes a shame he plays for Florida. I feel like he really doesn’t get the attention he deserves. He is a crucial reason this team isn’t just imploding. He is a big part of what makes their 1st line one of the best in hockey. It really is a shame they don’t have depth, because the front of this team has the talent to go all the way. Barkov is a massive part of that. The Panthers have him locked down for the foreseeable future as well. Oh yeah, he’s also ONLY 22. This kid is just going to get better, and it’s going to be a treat to watch. Add this in with the fact that they have him under 6 million for 4 more years, and this is why he is the best contract in the NHL.
That’s my list! Did you like it? Did I miss anyone or leave someone off the list? Where would you have ranked people? Let me know here, or on Twitter @NHLSensandStuff, and be sure to tune in soon when I post the 10 Worst Contracts!