About a week ago Ryan Fancey and Sean Tierny took turns putting together their best possible NHL teams that fit under the $71.4 million salary cap. The rules were pretty simple, just compile a roster that fits within the constraints of the league salary cap, using players’ cap hits for the upcoming 2015-16 season. Being the ever-pessimist (it’s not my fault I’ve been beaten down over my three decades on this earth as a sports fan in the city of Toronto) I thought I’d take a stab at putting together the worst team possible that fits under the salary cap. And to make things interesting, the team is not a budget team, it’s one that spends to the cap every season and is just managed so ineptly that while bad on the ice they are in contract nightmare off of it. (yeah yeah insert Maple Leafs joke here blah blah blah).
This exercise is harder than you’d think. Sure you can compile all the worst contracts in hockey and put them in a lineup. But doing that brings you to a cap hit of about $150m. That won’t fly. My team is based largely on possession numbers and offensive output over the past three seasons and ices two future hall of famers that are just well past the point they should have hung up their skates. To make it harder on myself I tried my best to slot guys into the roles they normally play on their current NHL team (top-6 forward, top-4 D etc)
Matt Moulson (5M) – Tyler Bozak (4.2M) – Jarome Iginla (5.33M)
Mason Raymond (3.15M) – Dave Bolland (5.5M) – David Clarkson (5.25M)
Eric Nystrom (2.5M) – Brandon Sutter (4.375M) – Cody McLeod (1.33M)
Nicholas Deslauriers (638k) – Vincent Lecavalier (4.5M) – Jared Boll (1.7M)
In putting together these groups, that second line of former Maple Leafs was completely unintentional. When Dave Bolland chose to head down to Florida instead of re-signing with Toronto, the Leafs dodged a huge bullet and were left with one less anchor to attempt to get out of. Yes a potential future Hall of Famer centering the 4th line on the “worst team you can build”. It’s a reality. Vincent Lecavalier has fallen so medeorically that he now plays bottom-6 minutes on a bad Flyers team.
Andrew MacDonald ( 5M) – Josh Gorges (3.9M)
Brad Stuart (3.6) – Dennis Wideman (5.25M)
Jamie McBain (600k) – Deryk Engelland (2.9M)
I don’t envy the goaltenders that have to play behind this group, at one point in time and NHL general manager thought that Andrew MacDonald was worth a long term deal worth $5m a season. Old boys club you say? Naw.
Some will see Dennis Wideman in this group and say “But he had 56 points from the blue line last season”. This point total and the myth that Wideman is a very good puck moving defender is the epitome of the argument between old school thinkers and analytics analysts. While Wideman put up a very impressive point total for the flames last season he’s had the 30th worst 5 on 5 CF% in the NHL over the past three season.
Mike Smith (5.67M)
Justin Peters (950k)
That’s right, my starting goaltender on the worst team money can buy is an Olympic gold medalist. Mike Smith has shown in the past to be a serviceable starter but he was really bad last year and it was completely independent from the bad team he had in front of him. As much as it pains me to put a former high school class mate on this terrible team, Justin Peters has been one of the worst backup goaltenders over the past three seasons.
This team is bad, and I mean really bad. Fans would already be buying their Auston Matthews jerseys. The one saving grace for this franchise is that they obviously employ a pretty damn good capologist because this roster sits at $71.34m, as close to the salary cap ceiling as possible.