Budget Burdens: The five NHL players providing the least value

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At one point, Brent Seabrook was a top player in the NHL, a gold medalist at the 2014 Olympics who played a vital role in three Stanley Cup championships for the Chicago Blackhawks. The big 6-foot-3, 220-pound defenseman could control the play in his own zone without struggle, and while he was never an elite offensive defenseman, he was always capable of putting points on the board. The Hawks rewarded Seabrook for that, signing him to an eight-year deal in 2015-16 at an AAV of $6.875 million at the age of 30.

If history has taught us anything, though, it’s that long-term deals for players in their 30s simply don’t work out, and Seabrook’s has been no different.

Through the first several weeks of the season – and some would argue dating back beyond that – Seabrook’s performance barely resembles what it did a decade ago. Made a healthy scratch twice already this season, the 34-year-0ld is no longer a premier shutdown defender, his lack of speed has become an issue and what offensive ability he did have has all but vanished. It used to be that Seabrook was good for a mid-30s point total, but that’s not quite the case. When he scored Saturday, it marked his second goal (and point) of the campaign, and as far as bang for their buck, the Hawks certainly aren’t getting any with Seabrook. Right now, Seabrook’s cost-per-point is more than $3.4 million.

Last week, we took a look at the best budget booms in the NHL. This week, we do the opposite, finding the players who have been a drag on the bottom line. In order to do so, we’ve limited the list to players who are on standard, non-entry-level contracts, have played at least 10 games and recorded at least two points.

Marc Staal, D (NY Rangers – $5.7 million AAV)
There was a time when Staal was a leader on the Rangers’ blue line. Not anymore. Before suffering an ankle infection last week, Staal was a healthy scratch on three occasions and his offensive production has been nearly non-existent as he’s only found the scoresheet twice in 11 games. Even for a defender whose career high is 29 points, that’s a tough start. His cost-per-point sits at $2.85 million, and while he wasn’t signed for his offensive acumen, his defensive ability doesn’t make him worth the cost at this point, either.

David Savard, D (Columbus – $4.25 million AAV)
Savard has never been the type to impress with his scoring prowess, but his two points in 19 games, both of which came in the same game in October, is an uncharacteristically slow start, even by his standards. With a cost-per-point of $2.13 million, Savard hasn’t offered the Jackets much and his ice time has dipped, too, falling from 19:45 per game in 2018-19 to 19:05 this season. Despite his invisibility on the scoresheet, Savard has been valuable in physical battles and is a quality shot-blocker. Unlike the others on this list, Savard offers value, just not from an offensive standpoint.

Milan Lucic, LW (Calgary – $6 million AAV)
Surprised to see Lucic on a list of under-performing forwards? Of course you aren’t. While James Neal is on pace for a 59-point season in Edmonton following the trade this summer, Lucic is tracking to record a mere 13. With only three assists in 20 games, Lucic has a cost-per-point of $2 million right now, making him one of the least-efficient forwards in the NHL. His ice time is sitting at 12:13, an average that just slightly eclipses his 12:00 from his rookie season. Once considered one of the best power forwards in the game, Lucic has fallen far since his time as a Boston Bruin.

Bobby Ryan, RW (Ottawa – $7.25 million AAV)
Any hopes Ryan had of rekindling the magic that made him a top-six scorer have been dashed. His four points in 16 games earned him a demotion to the fourth line, and Ryan’s cost-per-point, $1.81 million, is abysmal, especially when you factor in just how much cap space he eats up. It’s never a good sign when a team scratches their most expensive player. With two years left on his deal, finding Ryan a new home will be next to impossible. The Sens have roughly $9 million in cap space and can likely ride out the remainder of his contract, but it’s unfortunate that his production has diminished to such an extent.

P.K. Subban, D (New Jersey – $9 million AAV)
When P.K. Subban signed his massive eight-year deal in 2014-15 with Montreal, it was because of the tremendous two-way ability that won him the Norris Trophy in 2013. And while he can still be effective defensively, he has struggled to produce offensively over the past two seasons. Last season, he managed 31 points in 63 games, the lowest offensive output of his career. This season, he has five points in 19 games for the struggling Devils. That gives Subban a cost-per-point of $1.8 million. He’s only on pace for 22 points at this time, and while that’s unlikely to remain that way, Subban hasn’t found the scoresheet in the past seven games despite averaging nearly 24 minutes per outing.

(All salary cap information via CapFriendly and all advanced statistics via NaturalStatTrick).

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