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Thursday, October 25, 2012
Worst NHL contracts: DiPietro saga goes on

By Paul Grant

You could argue that in today’s locked-out NHL, every contract is the worst.

After all, how good is a contract if it’s not being honored?

That notwithstanding, there are some monumental contract failures in the league. Here's a list of what we think are the worst (all salaries courtesy of Capgeek.com.):

Gomez
The Canadiens gave Scott Gomez the kind of contract that is typically reserved for snipers, not a player with 21 goals in the past three seasons.
1. Scott Gomez, seven years, $51.5 million: Poor Scott Gomez. He’s a nice enough guy and a speedy center, but he was never worth anywhere close to the contract he signed in 2007. That kind of coin is reserved for snipers, not a guy who has just once scored more than 20 goals in a season. Last season was by far his worst (two goals, 11 assists in 38 games), especially during his much-mocked scoring drought, which stretched to comic proportions. He’s got two years left, in which the Canadiens will pay him $10 million, so his contract is the gift that keeps on taking.

2. Rick DiPietro, 15 years, $67.5 million: Good news: DiPietro’s contract breaks down to exactly $4.5 million per season, meaning the longer it lasts, the better a deal it becomes as other salaries increase. Bad news: DiPietro is signed through 2020-21. The injury-plagued goaltender has played 42 games over the past three seasons and hasn’t lived up to the potential many saw in him as a No. 1 pick. The Isles could buy him out -- for $27 million, which would be the biggest buyout ever. Obvious lesson we thought we’d never have to learn: Never give a goalie a 15-year contract. Never.

3. Ville Leino, six years, $27 million: The season before he signed his monster deal with the Sabres, Leino scored 19 goals and made $825,000. A season later, he scored eight goals and made $6 million. Sure, he had promise, which was shown in a record 2010 playoffs with the Flyers, but there was little else in Leino’s past performances to indicate he was worth that kind of money and term.

4. Ilya Bryzgalov, nine years, $51 million: Bryzgalov was paid $10 million last season. As a means of comparison, the Flyers could have spent that money on Tim Thomas ($5 million), two Jonathan Quicks ($1.8 million each) and one Jamie Benn ($670,000). The flaky Bryzgalov is good, yes, but he’s not earning that wage now or in the future. Philly will continue to eat him alive.

5. Mike Komisarek, five years, $22.5 million: Sure, he’s big, but so is the national debt. Before the Leafs signed him, Komisarek had never scored more than four goals or had more than 20 points. In his first three seasons with the Leafs, he had 19 points and earned $15.5 million. That’s almost $1 million a point. Not GM Brian Burke’s finest moment.

6. Wade Redden, six years, $39 million: When Rangers GM Glen Sather busted out the checkbook in 2008, Redden’s best days were behind him. Sure, Redden had once scored 12 power-play goals for the Senators, but that was before the last lockout. Sather overpaid, plain and simple. Redden’s contract is the lone barrier to him playing somewhere else in the NHL.

7. Paul Martin, five years, $25 million: At no time did defenseman Martin establish himself as a $5 million player. He’s not as terrible as Penguins fans like to think, but he’s not worth Erik Karlsson-type money. He’s just not that kind of player. And his deal includes a limited no-trade clause, making him all that much more challenging to move.

8. Mikhail Grabovski, five years, $27.5 million: Grabovski is a crazy-legs player who makes a lot of great moves, draws a lot of oohs and ahhs, and finishes the season with 50 points. In other words, his flash is more impressive than his substance. He’s not worth the $5.5 million cap hit to the Leafs.

9. Tyler Myers, seven years, $38.5 million: The annual cap hit of Myers’ contract isn’t so bad -- $5.5 million -- but why did the Sabres give him a $10 million signing bonus for the first year? Was it really that hard for him to sign the contract? It makes the first season of his deal -- which is, symbolically, the locked-out 2012-13 season -- worth $12 million, third-highest salary in the league. And we’re pretty sure that unless you live in Cheektowaga, you’ve never heard of Tyler Myers.

10. James Wisniewski, six years, $33 million: Wisniewski has scored 33 goals in 377 games and personifies everything that’s wrong with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Other players making the same $7 million salary next season: Jarome Iginla, Danny Briere, Joe Thornton, Pekka Rinne. Wisniewski is not in that class.

Legends division: Alexei Yashin, 10 years, $90 million: In his day, Yashin was a decent player. But he wasn’t worth the dough GM Mike Milbury threw at him in 2001. The deal was so bad, in fact, that even though the Islanders bought out two-thirds of it for a record $17.6 million in 2007, after his last NHL season, the contract is still on the books through 2014-15. Think that cash would have come in handy as a down payment on a new rink?