Commentary

Bang for the bucks

Kostitsyn heads list of players providing big returns on small investments

Originally Published: February 16, 2011
By Matthew Wuest | Special to ESPN Insider
Sergei KostitsynJohn Russell/NHLI/Getty ImagesBang! For the buck, Sergei Kostitsyn gives the Predators plenty.

Sergei Kostitsyn is the king of the NHL's bargain bin so far this season.

The Nashville Predators forward, quietly acquired from the Montreal Canadiens in an offseason trade for free-agents-to-be Dan Ellis and Dustin Boyd, is suddenly the league's most productive player for the least amount of money.

As of Monday, Kostitsyn had 15 goals and 18 assists for 33 points in 52 games, second on the Nashville Predators -- all to the tune of just $50,000 more than the NHL's minimum salary.

The 23-year-old forward's one-year, $550,000 contract is costing the Predators a league-low $10,569 per prorated point.

If last season's bargain-bin king, Rich Peverley, is any indication, Kostitsyn is due for a hefty raise as a restricted free agent. Peverley, who piled up 55 points in 82 games in 2009-10 with a $487,500 cap hit, landed a 171 percent raise when the Atlanta Thrashers signed him to a two-year extension worth $1.325 million per season.

The other top 2009-10 bargains also got massive raises: Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders ($575,000 to $2.45 million); Tomas Fleischmann, then of the Washington Capitals ($725,000 to $2.6 million); and Kurtis Foster, then of the Tampa Bay Lightning ($600,000 to $1.8 million).

Kostitsyn isn't the only player giving his team excellent bang for its buck this season. We crunched the numbers on every player in the league, calculating the cost of each per prorated point, with a minimum of 25 games played as of Monday. Please note the list excludes entry-level contracts, leaving players such as Claude Giroux off the list.

Take one look at the rest of this list of the NHL's 10 best bargains, and you can see the spendthrift Islanders may not drop a lot of dough but are apparently quite practiced at finding a bargain.