P.T. Barnum once claimed there's a sucker born every minute, and you can bet a few NHL general managers are hoping to run into one among their colleagues.
With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, many teams are looking for help, but swapping in the salary cap world is about making the dollars fit as much as the faces. Especially for those teams that have been saddled with bad, and in some cases unmovable, contracts. Here are 10 of the worst.
|Not even dressing for every game, Wade Redden is still on the Broadway books for another $23 million. (Getty Images)|
2. Scott Gomez, Canadiens: Another of Rangers GM Glen Sather's legacy signings in New York, just no longer his problem because Gomez was pawned off on the Canadiens last spring. That move was one of the reasons Canadiens GM Bob Gainey fell out of favor with many fans in Montreal and probably helped encourage him to step down this week. Gomez hasn't been awful since signing his mega deal in 2007, but he's a second-line center getting big first-line money and not living up to the expectations that kind of coin carries. Worse, he is putting a serious crimp in Montreal's salary structure and ability to upgrade the lineup. Gomez has $25 million coming to him over the next four years and $7.3 million cap hit.
3. Daniel Briere, Flyers: There was a serious bidding war for Briere in the summer of 2007 because he was well over a point-per-game player in the first two seasons after the lockout. Philadelphia won the free-agent contest with a $52 million offer over eight seasons. But other than a few spurts, Briere hasn't come close to justifying the deal with his production. No one would complain about his numbers if he were being paid, say, about half of what he is. Problem is he has five more seasons and $26 million left on the contract that carries an annual $6.3 million cap hit.
4. Shawn Horcoff, Oilers: The Edmonton center had a coming-out party right after the lockout when the Oilers made a surprise run to the Stanley Cup Finals, but these days he's collecting big money and spending most of his time on the third line. Overall, little is going right in Edmonton this season, but Horcoff has become a major whipping boy. Players who have $5.5 million cap hits for the next four seasons to go along with only 20 points and a minus-31 tend to find themselves in that situation.
5. Jonathan Cheechoo, Senators: Remember when this guy won the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league's top goal scorer with San Jose? Don't worry, neither does anyone else who has seen him play over the last few years. Cheechoo has suffered several injuries since he had that breakout season after the lockout and signed a big deal, but he's lost a step or three and, more importantly, his hands around the net. Cheechoo was part of the deal that sent Dany Heatley to the Sharks, but his numbers have slipped year after year and are downright ugly in this one, his first with the Senators. The bright side is that Ottawa only owes him one more season after this at $3.5 million.
6. Mike Commodore, Blue Jackets: Always known more for a head of red hair that is challenging to fit into a helmet, Commodore struck it rich before last season when the Columbus Blue Jackets signed him to a five-year deal. Thing is the Jackets were looking for a No. 1 shutdown type, and that role is really above Commodore's pay grade. Even at a $3.75 million annual cap hit. Commodore has had injury trouble this season and is on the shelf now with a hip problem, but he's minus-10 when healthy and has three more years and $10.5 million left on his deal.
|John-Michael Liles has $9M on his contract for the next two seasons. (Getty Images)|
8. Jeff Finger, Maple Leafs: There were a lot of heads being scratched when the Maple Leafs signed this little-known free-agent defenseman to a four-year, $14 million deal in July 2008, and probably even more today. Finger was a marginal blue liner at best when he joined Toronto, and has not elevated his status in nearly two seasons since. In fact, he's been a healthy scratch 25 times this season.
9. John-Michael Liles, Avalanche: Funny thing about Liles is that his numbers this season are on par for his career, yet he's been a disappointment to rookie coach Joe Sacco and his surprisingly good Avalanche. Liles has been scratched for the last couple of games and six times so far this season, which suggests that the 30-year-old defenseman really isn't in the team's plans for the future. But moving him won't be easy because Liles has two more years and $9 million left on his contract, with the cap hit nearly full value of the deal over that period.
10. Cristobal Huet, Blackhawks: Ask anyone about an Achilles' heel for the Chicago Blackhawks this season and the consensus response is goaltending. But that's not because of Antti Niemi, a rookie who isn't expected to carry a legitimate Stanley Cup hopeful a long way. No, the fear here is Huet, who signed a big free-agent deal before last season, essentially played his way out of the starting job and to many, is the potential downfall for this team. Huet has shown flashes of brilliance in his career, and just as much inconsistency. That's why the Blackhawks are discreetly looking for help. They aren't likely to move Huet and the $5.625 cap hit he carries for two more seasons after this, but Chicago could eat his salary and bury him in the minors.