Maybe it’s just my imagination, but there were more and more contract announcements this summer that resulted in the free agent signing for less money than he made last season.
Almost 50 players by my count, but probably a few more if you move into the fringe zone of NHL rosters. In most cases, these bargain contracts went to veterans hanging on for another season in the best league in the world, or to players coming off poor years having to agree to redemption contracts.
While most free agents signing new deals this summer received substantial raises, the number of players on squeeze contracts is anecdotally higher as well.
For every few players getting a P.K. Subban-like 313 percent pay hike (from $2.875 million to $9 million), there was a player like Brad Richards seeing his stipend whacked 70 percent (from $6.67 million to $2 million.) Even the astronomical – and absurd – 512 percent pay increases like the one fringe defenseman Deryk Engelland got from Calgary (from $566,667 to $2.9 million) were offset by the 86.67 percent drops like the one Dany Heatley got in Anaheim (from $7.5 million to $1 million).
As July wore on, the number of players inking deals that will see their salary drop in 2014-15 increased. It was part missing that first wave of player signings, part salary cap related and part no room left on the roster.
So without further adieu, here’s the All-Squeeze Team for 2014-15. Each of them signed for less than they made last season, but on the bright side, they each have something to prove in order to make their next contract bigger and better.
Dany Heatley, Ana, 33, from $7.5 M to $1 M, a 86.7 percent drop
Mike Ribeiro, Nsh, 34, from $5.5 M to $1.05 M, a 81 percent drop
Derek Roy, Nsh, 31, from $4 M to $1 M, a 75 percent drop
David Booth, Tor, 29, from $4.25 M to $1.1 M, a 74.1 percent drop
Brad Richards, Chi, 34, from $6.67 M to $2 M, a 70 percent drop
Martin Havlat, NJ, 33, from $5 M to $1.5 M, a 70 percent drop
Lee Stempniak, NYR, 31, from $2.5 M to $900 K, a 64 percent drop
Steve Downie, Pit, 27, from $2.65 M to $1 M, a 62.3 percent drop
David Moss, Ari, 32, from $2.1 M to $800 K, a 61.9 percent drop
Olli Jokinen, Nsh, 35, from $4.5 M to $2.5 M, a 44.4 percent drop
T.J. Galiardi, Wpg, 26, from $1.25 M to $700 K, a 44 percent drop
Marian Gaborik, LA, 32, from $7.5 M to $4.875 M, a 35 percent drop
Others forwards who signed for less scratch this coming season include David Legwand, Brian Gionta, Matt Stajan, Jay McClement, Jarome Iginla, Ales Hemsky, Vern Fiddler, Thomas Vanek, Mike Cammalleri, Steve Bernier, Cory Conacher, Milan Michalek, Blake Comeau, Steve Ott, Matt Frattin and Daniel Winnik.
Anton Volchenkov, Nsh, 32, from $4.25 M to $1 M, a 76.5 percent drop
Tim Gleason, Car, 31, from $4.0 M to $1.2 M, a 70 percent drop
Kimmo Timonen, Phi, 39, from $6 M to $2 M, a 66.7 percent drop
Nick Schultz, Phi, 31, from $3.5 M to $1.25 M, a 64.3 percent drop
Michael Del Zotto, Phi, 24, from $2.55 M to $1.3 M, a 49 percent drop
Dan Boyle, NYR, 38, from $6.67 M to $4.5 M, a 32.5 percent drop
Other defenseman who signed for less money this coming season include Matt Greene, Justin Falk, Chris Phillips, Chris Butler, Stephane Robidas and Nate Prosser.
Devan Dubnyk, Ari, 28, from $3.5 M to $800 K, a 77.1 percent drop
Evgeni Nabokov, TB, 39, from $3.25 M to $1.55 M, a 52.3 percent drop
Other goalies who signed for less are Ryan Miller, Anders Lindback and Ray Emery.
(Editor note: Thanks Daoloth, Gaborik now added.)
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN