Dave Bolland (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Martin Brodeur’s one-year deal with the St. Louis Blues was a strange contract, but thanks in large part to his retirement it wasn’t the worst. From reclamation projects to overpaid tough guys, these are the 10 worst free agent signings of 2014-15.
The St. Louis Blues’ signing of Martin Brodeur didn’t turn out the way many fans would have hoped, with the legendary netminder playing some of the worst hockey of his career and then retiring once there was no longer a spot for him in the lineup.
But the signing was a calculated risk. Brodeur came cheap, was a capable backup and a teacher and mentor for young goaltender Jake Allen. Because Brodeur retired before Feb. 1, it saved the Blues from paying a roster bonus to the veteran netminder. Those are all reasons you won’t find Brodeur on this list of the worst signings of this season.
What you will find is a few players who are overpaid, contracts that are far too long, and a few gambles that simply didn’t pay off.
10. Brooks Orpik, Washington Capitals – 5 years, $27.5 million
There are a few reasons why Orpik lands at the 10th spot on this list, and two of the big ones are term and age. Orpik, 34, will be inching ever closer to his 40th birthday by the time his deal with the Captials comes to a close. The contract wouldn’t be as bad had it been for a defenseman in his late-20s.
There’s also the fact that Orpik has been subpar for the Capitals this season. His Corsi For is 49.2 percent, which means he’s being out-possessed when he’s on the ice, and he’s been a drag on the possession numbers for many of the teammates he’s suited up alongside. This deal doesn’t look good now and it won’t get better in four years.
9. Devin Setoguchi, Calgary Flames – 1 year, $750,000
Like Brodeur was for the Blues, Setoguchi’s signing by the Flames was a calculated risk. However, unlike Brodeur, Setoguchi is only 28 and far from retirement.
The reason the deal looks so bad is that the Flames attempted to a reclamation project on a one-time 30-goal scorer when there were more economical options for depth scoring available. It’s not the worst contract signed in the off-season, but it was wasteful spending Calgary, especially with Setoguchi currently toiling in the AHL.
The Taber, Atla., native suited up for 12 games and failed to register a single point with the Flames.
8. Dany Heatley, Anaheim Ducks – 1 year, $1 million
Heatley was once one of the NHL’s preeminent scorers, known for a rocket of a shot and being a consistent threat to find the back of the net. He hasn’t been that player for the past five seasons, but the Ducks took a flyer on Heatley hoping he could maybe recapture some of that scoring touch.
Much like the Setoguchi in Calgary, Heatley didn’t work out in Anaheim. In six games, Heatley didn't find the scoresheet once and he currently finds himself playing in Norfolk for the Admirals, and there’s no certainty he’ll find himself with a job in North America come 2015-16.
7. John Scott, San Jose Sharks – 1 year, $700,000
Scott makes $700,000 this season. He has played 23 games, scored a career-high two goals and three points and has 46 penalty minutes. He has also been suspended for four games. That’s about all that needs to be said about Scott, who, at a time when pugilists are having a near impossible time finding work in the NHL, somehow got a deal with the Sharks.
Say what you will about how good he may be in the dressing room, spending $700,000 and a roster spot on a guy who averages just seven minutes of ice time per game.
6. David Legwand, Ottawa Senators – 2 years, $6 million
The original Nashville Predator – the first player drafted by the organization in 1998 – Legwand isn’t what he used to be. It was shocking when the Detroit Red Wings sent Calle Jarnkrok, Patrick Eaves and a conditional pick to Nashville for Legwand, and it was equally as strange to see the Senators pony up $3 million per season for the 34-year-old center.
He’s still useful and can still contribute, but the signing still seems more like Ottawa paying for the Legwand from several years ago than it does his present day ability. He has 7 goals and 21 points this season.
5. Stephane Robidas, Toronto Maple Leafs – 3 years, $9 million
For a team that should be trying to build using cheap, young players with a lot of upside, it’s odd that the Maple Leafs even went out and picked up 37-year-old defender. It’s even stranger when you consider that the Leafs will spend $9 million over three seasons to have a near 40-year-old defenseman in their lineup.
There was a time when Robidas was one of the most underrated blueliners in the league, but that time has long since passed. In 41 games, Robidas has six points. If Toronto doesn’t already want this deal off the books, they will soon.
4. Tanner Glass, New York Rangers – 3 years, $4.35 million
In 37 games this season, Glass has one point, an assist, and that’s it. He’s racked up 56 penalty minutes, a few fighting majors, and averages 10 minutes of ice time per game. Other than that, there’s not much to Glass’ game. He’s a fourth-line player that the Rangers employ at a cap hit of $1.45 million per season and his primary duty is to throw his weight and fists around.
While John Scott’s deal with San Jose may be a bad one, the Glass deal takes the cake for worst contract handed out to a fighter.
3. Brenden Morrow, Tampa Bay Lightning – 1 year, $1.55 million
In 2007-08, Morrow registered 32 goals and 74 points for the Dallas Stars. Less than a decade later, Morrow is on pace for nine points in 76 games with the Lightning.
Through 48 games, the 36-year-old winger has scored just twice and added four assists and is likely playing one of his final seasons in the NHL. His output has very clearly dwindled and his physical style of play is catching up to him. Come the trade deadline, if Tampa Bay wants to buy and load up for their Cup run, they might be wishing they had an extra million to work with.
2. Daniel Cleary, Detroit Red Wings – 1 year, $2.5 million
For some Red Wings fans, the signing of Cleary was an annoyance and a head-scratching move by GM Ken Holland. With a team stocked with fresh faces like Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist and players like Teemu Pulkkinen and Anthony Mantha in the AHL, Cleary is little more than a roadblock for Detroit to bring some young guns up.
On top of it all, Cleary has only suited up for 12 games this season. Often he’s been made a healthy scratch by coach Mike Babcock, and he has just one goal and two points. This is likely the last deal Cleary, 36, will get with the Red Wings, and it’s hard to imagine he’ll find work in the NHL next season.
1. Dave Bolland, Florida Panthers – 5 years, $27.5 million
There might be no player in history to cash in from scoring a big goal on the game’s biggest stage like Bolland has. After scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2012-13, Bolland was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs, missed most of the season due to injury, and then signed a monster five-year deal worth $5.5 million per year with the Florida Panthers.
In 29 games this season, Bolland has scored two goals and 12 points while averaging little more than 16 minutes of ice time per game. At 28, Bolland still has a lot of years left in him, but he hasn’t been the player he was with the Blackhawks early in his career.
It’s the worst deal handed out last summer and there’s little doubt that it won’t age well.