Worst UFA deals this offseason

Contracts for Miller, Bolland among five worst in NHL's opening frenzy

Updated: July 10, 2014, 10:09 AM ET
By Matthew Coller | Hockey Prospectus

Ryan Miller AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Darryl DyckRyan Miller was happy to land an $18 million deal, but it wasn't a wise move by Vancouver.

The opening of free agency in the NHL has been nicknamed "silly season" because of the number of over-the-top contracts that are handed out on July 1. This year, there were certainly silly deals, but several teams landed quality players for reasonable contracts. We examined those on Wednesday.

In this file, we're going to look at some of the worst of those contracts, according to both standard and advanced metrics. We'll make reference to goals versus threshold (GVT), a Hockey Prospectus proprietary statistic; for more on GVT, click here. All other advanced stats are courtesy of ExtraSkater.com.

Here are the five worst deals so far:


Free agent: Ryan Miller, G, (2013-14 GVT: 15.6)
Team: Vancouver Canucks
Price tag: Three years, $18 million

This head-scratching contract presents the question: Are the Canucks rebuilding after trading Ryan Kesler or not?

Signing a 33-year-old goaltender to a $6 million per year deal suggests they are in win-now mode instead of finding out whether they have the next franchise goaltender in Jacob Markstrom or Eddie Lack. Yet, considering the additions the Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks made, it seems like a long shot the Canucks will be a contender this season. Oh, and there's still the matter of the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, who didn't lose any key players from their championship roster.

The other aspect of the deal that is questionable is the cap hit for a goaltender who has been only a bit above average since winning the Vezina Trophy in 2009-10. He has had save percentages of .916, .916, .915 and .923 during that stretch, with the league average hovering around .913.

The best predictor for future performance is even-strength save percentage, where Miller was below the elite company of the league last season, as seen in the chart at right.

There is no doubt Miller is a very good goaltender, but spending $6 million per year during a time of retooling or rebuilding does not make a lot of sense. Expect Miller to be reminded of his days in Buffalo, fighting to sneak in to the postseason.


Free agent: Dave Bolland, C (2013-14 GVT: 2.8)
Team: Florida Panthers
Price tag: Five years, $27.5 million