Recently, Toronto Maple Leafs Radio Host @FAN590 Nick Alberga asked: “Tyler Toffoli – best contract in hockey? I’ll hang-up and listen.” The reason he asked that question is because scored another goal on Monday evening in a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. It was his fourth-straight game with a goal and he now has 25 goals and 36 points in 44 games this season.
The question got us to thinking about some of the best contracts in the NHL and the reactions to his post stirred up some interesting options as to which players might have more valuable deals to their respective clubs. Let’s take a look:
The Toffoli Deal
What makes Toffoli’s deal so interesting is that it was signed a few days in to this past free agency and at what many felt was a low AAV. He signed with the Montreal Canadiens for four seasons at $4.25 million per season, which was especially baffling because the Vancouver Canucks could have, and should have gotten that deal done.
Instead, Toffoli slowly walked to the Canadiens in free agency and hasn’t looked back. He’s arguably the best signing by any GM this past free agency period and it’s mind boggling that he’s on such a team-friendly deal considering he’s had a history of producing in the NHL. His results might be a bit surprising, but they shouldn’t be shocking, not in the least bit.
One of the first responses to the question of Toffoli’s deal brought out someone who said that Connor McDavid has the best contract in the NHL. The argument here is that even though he’s being paid $12.5 million on the cap and he represents 15.3% of the Edmonton Oilers overall salary cap, he’s worth every penny.
McDavid now has 81 points in 46 games and it’s hard to bet against him that he hits 100 points in a 56-game season. Frankly, that’s incredible. No one is even close to his production this season and any team would be happy to pay him what the Oilers and then some. You could pay him 25% of your overall team cap and he still might outplay that deal.
At $6.3M for another two seasons, Natan MacKinnon has to be in the conversation. He’s arguably the second-best player in the NHL next to McDavid and his $6.3M represents a total underpayment. When the Colorado Avalanche got that deal done, they caught a huge break.
MacKinnon jumped from a 53-point season in 2016-17, to 97, 99 and 93 points respectively in the next three years. It was immediately obvious the Avs hit a home run on that contract. Not only that, but his low-cost deal has allowed the Avs to spend money on other players and build one of the most well-rounded teams in the NHL.
The key with Chychrun is that he’s signed to a team-friendly $4.6 million per season until 2025. This represents a massive underpayment considering what he’s likely to become for the Arizona Coyotes. With 36 points in 49 games this season, he’s logged 20-plus minutes in every game but one this season.
He’s the eighth-highest paid player on the Philadelphia Flyers roster, but he might be the most valuable. At $4.3 million per season, this year and next, Couturier is everything the Flyers could have asked for a more. That he fell in the draft has to be irking teams that overlooked him and he’s one of the best (if not the best) two-way players in the NHL.
Again, here’s another player who makes a good amount of money at $8.5 million per season, but he’s coming off of two seasons where he scored 105 and 110 points respectively. How ridiculous is that for a player who is ranked 28th in the NHL by Capfriendly.com for NHL player salaries.
He’s second to McDavid in scoring this season with 66 points in 46 games and he’s on pace to score 80 points in a 56-game season. Again, any team would love to have his contract, even if by NHL standards, it’s not among the lowest price point per season. And, he rarely gets injured. Part of the value of any deal is how healthy a player can stay.
One player where injuries have been a factor but is still a great value at $6.66 million for the next two season after this one is David Pastrnak. He’s a high-end talent who consistently produces for the Boston Bruins and he’s a proven playoff performer who comes up big in big games.
At $700K, Spezza is tied with multiple players for the lowest per year average salary. He makes the league minimum. He’s certainly not playing like he a league-minimum player. With 10 goals and 24 points in 46 games, he’s been a key piece to the Toronto Maple Leafs puzzle this season.
He’s offering leadership and skill, he’s meshing well in any role he’s asked to play and he’s going to be counted on during the playoffs as the Leafs try to get over that obstacle that has plagued them for seasons on end.
Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche is having a fantastic season and makes $3.33 million, which is a steal. Mike Smith is having a Vezina Trophy caliber season in Edmonton and few fans wanted the team to re-sign him on a one-year $1.5 million. Now, most want him back again next season. Jonathan Huberdeau is an incredible talent and he’s locked in with the Florida Panthers for three seasons at very friendly $5.9 million and Aleksander Barkov is in that conversation too, making the same money as Huberdeau.
Who did we miss? Is there another player you think should be included here that isn’t?
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