While the NHL’s winter months are defined by wins and losses, the summertime is a battleground of dollars and cents. Armed with ballpoint pens and checkbooks, General Managers around the league filter through the summer’s batch of free agents in hopes of bringing in the necessary talent to take their team to the next level.
Just like during the regular season, the offseason’s fiscal pandemonium also has winners and losers. Even in an era in which the “hometown discount” is almost all but extinct, General Managers still manage to lock up top tier talent at affordable prices. While there are still plenty of bad contracts in the league, a select group of players are working above and beyond the dollar value they are currently making. It is in that spirit that I have decided to share five contracts that I believe to be some of the best in the entire NHL.
Given how hard it can be to judge a players true “value”, I have decided to look at five specific contracts rather than ranking them – Enjoy!
Max Pacioretty (Montreal Canadiens)
Cap Hit Rank For Forwards: Out of Top 50
At just 24-years-old, Canadiens’ forward Max Pacioretty has already become one of the premier American born hockey players currently in the NHL. Last season, Pacioretty finished with 39 points (15G-24A-39P) which was good enough for 33rd in the NHL and 1st on the Canadiens for the 2nd consecutive year. Signed through the 2018-2019 season, Pacioretty’s annual $4.5 million cap hit isn’t even high enough to place him in the top 50 highest paid forwards in the NHL. Given his role as the Canadiens’ premier scorer, it’s safe to say that the Habs have been blessed with a bargain.
John Tavares (New York Islanders)
Cap Hit Rank for Forwards: 44
The potential next Captain of the Islanders, forward John Tavares is already showing that he has what it takes to be one of the best players in the entire NHL. After leading the Islanders in scoring for the past four seasons, Tavares was finally able to carry the team to the playoffs for the first time in his career. In just his 4th year in the NHL, Tavares finished last season as a Hart Trophy finalist after ending the year 17th in scoring. Considering most top-tier players are now making north of $8 million a season, Tavares’ annual $5.5 million cap hit through the 2017-2018 season is possibly the best contract in the entire NHL.
Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis Blues)
Cap Hit Rank for Defensemen: 42
In just his 3rd year with the Blues, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is already starting to stand out on a very talented St. Louis blue line. Last season, Shattenkirk finished the year as the Blues’ 2nd highest scoring defenseman and his nine power play points led the team’s defensive unit. Already one of the Blues’ top-2 defenseman at a young age, Shattenkirk’s annual $4.25 million cap hit through the 2016-2017 season should prove to be a steal when it’s all said and done.
P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens)
Cap Hit Rank for Defensemen: Out of Top 50
Though he only has one year remaining on his current deal, Canadiens’ defenseman P.K. Subban enters next season with probably one of the best contracts for a D-man in the entire NHL. Last season, Subban finished the year with 38 points (11G-27A-38P) and took home his first ever Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman. Although he is most certainly due for a substantial pay increase in the near future, Subban’s $2.875 million cap hit next season may prove to be the deal of the century.
Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Cap Hit Rank for Forwards: 41
An ageless wonder, Lighting forward Martin St. Louis took home last year’s Art Ross trophy at the ripe old age of 38. Still one of the premier playmakers in the league, St. Louis has been an integral part of the Lightning’s high-powered offense for many years. In fact, St. Louis has scored a total of 327 points in the last four seasons alone. While many players decline towards the end of their deals, St. Louis looks as if he will continue to outperform his annual $5.625 million cap hit through the 2014-2015 season.
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