How much is too much?
The 2017 NHL free agency has provided fans with continuous excitement throughout the summer, as they got to see some of the games best move around from team to team either through trades or signings. However, with the season only a couple of months away, the excitement we saw early on in the summer has almost completely died down. Many veterans out there still sit patiently waiting for an appealing offer from any team in hopes to extend their careers. While many older players still find themselves without a team or a salary, there are many unrecognizable names out their signing large contracts that to many probably don't make much sense.
Jaromir Jagr, 45, is looking to extend his historic NHL career into a 24th season. Since 1990, Jagr has played in over 1,700 games in which he's accumulated nearly 2,000 points. However, the veteran still finds himself as a free agent and without a salary for the 2017-18 season. Veterans like Jagr, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla are having an increasingly difficult time signing contracts in order to add another season to their NHL resume.
While these vets continue to struggle to find interested teams, there are players out there with little substance to their playing career that have landed big NHL contracts.
Brett Pesce, 22, is a defensemen for the Carolina Hurricanes coming into his second NHL season. In early August, the Canes signed the New York native to a six-year contract extension worth $24.15 million. In his first NHL season, Pesce accumulated 20 points, an acceptable but disappointing season for a teams top defensemen. However, it can be argued whether or not Pesce is a top defensemen. It can also be asked whether or not Pesce is worth what the Hurricanes are planning on paying him and if he needs to be around that long. After only one season in Carolina, what caused them to sign Pesce to such a long and expensive contract? It is obvious they see potential in the young defensemen, but signing a player for six years at a little over $4 million a year based off possible potential seems a little enthusiastic. Pesce is not the only lower-tier NHL player that has made off with a large contract.
Nino Niederreiter, 24, is coming off of his highest point total in any of his five NHL seasons racking up 57 points. In late July, the Minnesota Wild winger signed a five-year contract worth a whopping $26.25 million with Minnesota. Although Niederreiter has established himself as a solid player for the Wild, he still finds himself out of that upper echelon of players in the league. And while he has a good deal of potential coming off this past season, does a player like him need to be signed to such a long contract? Niederreiter is a player worth a contract of maybe two to three year max, yet the Wild inked him for five. With an annual cap hit of $4.6 million, the Swiss winger is going to have to continue this trend of higher point totals over the next five years if the Wild want to see their investment pay off.
Coming off back-to-back Stanley Cup wins, defensemen Brian Dumoulin has seen success than most lower-tier players. After a 15-point regular season and six-point postseason, the Biddeford, Maine native signed a six-year contract worth $24.6 million with an annual cap hit of $4.1 million. This calls into question again whether or not a defensemen like Dumoulin is worth this much money and for that long. While he has been essential to the success of a stacked Pittsburgh defensive core, Dumoulin still finds himself fluctuating between the top and bottom four defensemen. The Penguins defense, led by a constantly-injured Kris Letang, need a big defensemen like to Dumoilin in order to keep the foundation of their blue line. Although building this strong foundation is necessary for any teams defense, it is questionable that Brian Dumoilin is going to be leading that for the next six years. He is a sturdy defensemen who from time-to-time can make an impactful offensive play, but based on his performance in the past seasons it doesn't add up for him to be signed to such a long and expensive contract.
Player's values can change over the course of one season. Although highly unlikely, Alexander Ovechkin could have an extremely disappointing season next year, in which case the Capitals would have to consider Oveckin's value and worth to the team. Even though it seems impossible that one of the league's best like Ovechkin would have a disappointing season, it is still possible. So, if this is possible with one of the best players in the world, it it certainly possible that players like Pesce, Niederreiter, or Dumoilin could perform way below their pay grade. In that case, the teams who signed them to such long and expensive contracts would have to bite the bullet and realize that they overpaid these players for too long. These are just three players among many who are slightly overpaid for their skill level and given long-term contracts. Teams signing these players need to really consider whether or not it is worth keeping these players around for so many years, and how much money is too much.