By Daniel Friedman
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The Islanders extended Nick Leddy — one of their two prized additions on defense — on Tuesday, giving him a seven-year, $38.5 million contract. Whether or not Johnny Boychuk follows suit remains to be seen, but the Isles appear willing to shell out the cash for players who they feel are essential pieces of the puzzle.
Across the river(s), the Rangers and Devils have also given out their fair share of lengthy contracts, and the Islanders have done it for some of their other players as well. Let’s take a look at the 10 biggest deals handed out by the local hockey teams over the last five years:
NOTE: This list does not include players who were either traded away or bought out. So before you type “no Brad Richards!?” in the comments section, please keep this in mind.
10. Adam Henrique, Devils
Contract: Six years, $24 million; signed on August 27, 2013
The Devs opted to give Adam “It’s Over” Henrique a decent raise, one which he certainly deserved. At an average salary of $4 million per year, that’s really not a bad rate. But the length of that contract is what makes this an ill-advised move, especially given the fact that he’s often injured.
9. Travis Hamonic, Islanders
Contract: Seven years, $27 million; signed on July 5, 2013
Naturally, the Isles appear on this list multiple times. After all, this is the team that essentially started the trend of handing out long-term contracts in the NHL (see: DiPietro, Rick). But it’s clear they’ve learned their lesson from that debacle, and Hamonic’s deal exemplifies that. Considering the caliber of hockey player we’re talking about, those terms are quite reasonable.
8. Ryan McDonagh, Rangers
Contract: Six years, $28.2 million; signed on July 8, 2013
McDonagh’s deal is very similar to Hamonic’s, and in fact it was signed just three days later. On the open market, a player like him is going for at least double the amount the Rangers are paying him. Job well done by Sather and Co.
7. John Tavares, Islanders
Contract: Six years, $33 million; signed on September 14, 2011
Absolutely and unequivocally the biggest bargain in the NHL. The Islanders are paying one of the best hockey players in the world second-tier money. That will not be the case when Tavares’ current deal expires in 2018, however.
6. Dan Girardi, Rangers
Contract: Six years, $33 million; signed on February 28, 2014
The Rangers had a choice to make, with a logjam on defense and a shortage of cap space. GM Glen Sather wisely chose to hold onto Girardi, who might be getting paid a bit much. But it’s better to have him on your side, even if it means coughing up some extra cash. To say it’s a bad contract would be an exaggeration, at least in this writer’s opinion.
5. Marc Staal, Rangers
Contract: Six years, $34.2 million; signed on January 16, 2015
Once again, the Blueshirts had to figure out who would stay and who would go on their blue line. Marc Staal, despite all the injuries, is a very good defenseman and was definitely worth taking a chance on with that new contract.
4. Nick Leddy, Islanders
Contract: Seven years, $38.5 million; signed on February 24, 2015
Traded by the Chicago Blackhawks — who lacked the necessary cap space to keep him aboard — he was extended by the Islanders, who have plenty of cap space and were more than happy to take advantage of the circumstances. Leddy’s already a stud, and he’s just 23 years old.
3. Cory Schneider, Devils
Contract: Seven years, $42 million; signed on July 9, 2014
Not many franchises can lose a Martin Brodeur and have another star goaltender at the ready to put in net. But the Devils put themselves in a position to do just that, when they acquired Schneider in a draft-day trade. Getting him signed long-term was a no-brainer.
2. Travis Zajac, Devils
Contract: Eight years, $46 million; signed on January 16, 2013
Zajac has never racked up more than 67 points in a single year. He gets paid more per season (on average) than Tavares, Tyler Seguin, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa and Jeff Carter, among others. To say he hasn’t lived up to his contract (and likely never will) is a tremendous understatement. He’s a good hockey player, but eight years and $46 million good? No way.
1. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers
Contract: Six years, $59.5 million; signed on December 4, 2013
It was never a question of if he would re-sign, but rather a question of when. Lundqvist is one of the best goaltenders on the planet, which means the reasonable cost is whatever the heck you have to pay to keep him around. Generational talents don’t grow on trees (though, evidently, they do in Sweden).
Follow Daniel Friedman on Twitter @DFriedmanOnNYI.