There has been a lot of publicity about teams up against the salary cap and the large contracts that got them there. In Chicago, there was Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet, with Huet being shipped overseas to dump his contract. Long time veteran Wade Redden is playing in the AHL with Hartford so the Rangers could clear his $6.5 million cap hit. And most recently, the Devils played with only 15 skaters thatnks in large part to the high contracts of Ilya Kovalchuk and Brian Rolston.
However, there have been a few contracts given out this season that were quite puzzling and, despite their relative low value, can be a significant contributor to a team having limited cap space with which to work.
While all the talk about the Devils player shortage earlier this year was about Kovlachuk and Rolston, I for one saw the contract that was given to Johan Hedberg this offseason as a contributing factor. While it is only for $1.5 million per season, had New Jersey signed a backup goaltender for a more appropriate price, they would have been able to afford calling up a player or two to help alleviate their roster shortage. I am not saying that Johan Hedberg is not good enough to earn $1.5 million, rather, the backup to Marty Brodeur, a 70 game per season goaltender, should not be one of the highest paid backups in the league. Of the 61 goaltenders on starting day rosters, Hedberg makes more money than 29 of them. For a position that will most likely play less than 20 games, that is way too much.
Another contract that was significantly too much money for the player acquired was the deal given to Derek Boogaard by the Rangers. Boogaard is nothing more than an enforcer, yet the average value of his contract is $1.825 million per season. This is three times as much money as was given to Raitis Ivanans, another enforcer that fulfills the same role for his club, the Calgary Flames. Most enforcers make between $600 and $800 thousand per season. That extra million dollars per season could be used much more wisely somewhere else on the roster, although the Rangers have never proven themselves as shrewd cap managers.
These are only tow of quite a few deals that, while smaller in value, can contribute to a team’s inability to field the best team possible in this new cap era of hockey.
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