Worst signings of NHL Free Agency

A trio of veteran defensemen:

Every off-season, NHL GMs overpay for the services of below-average, veteran blue-liners. This go around was no different. A trio of experienced defensemen got noticeably bad deals.

Erik Gudranson: 4 years, $4M AAV

Erik Gudbranson was traded to the Calgary Flames, after bouncing around 4 teams over the course of 2 years after putrid on-ice performance. Gudbranson faired a bit better in Calgary but continued his troubling trend of being a liability in his zone. His offensive impacts were pleasantly surprising, but not nearly enough to make up for his defensive lapses. Gudbranson will turn 31 next season, so a 4-year deal doesn’t project well, especially for a replacement-level player. Just a terrible signing for a Columbus team that was the worst defensive team in the National Hockey League a season ago.

Nick Leddy: 4 years, $4M AAV

It’s hard to be worse than Erik Gudbranson, but Nick Leddy manages to do so. Leddy has similar lackluster defensive results to the aforementioned Gudbranson, but he pairs that with being a non-factor offensively as well. Nick Leddy will turn 32 next season, and will seemingly continue to regress. The Blues certainly could’ve allocated that $4M better. Perhaps that money could’ve been used to ink a better goaltender than Thomas Greiss.

Ben Chiarot: 4 years, $4.75M AAV

The Red Wings aren’t the first team to overpay for the services of Ben Chiarot after the Panthers sent a 1st-round pick+ to the Montreal Canadiens at last season’s trade deadline. Chiarot constantly falters while defending his own zone, and his defensive efforts have only declined over the past few seasons. Chiarot is a solid contributor on offense, but, much like Gudbranson, it definitely does not make up for his defensive failures. Chiarot will make $4.75M per year for the next 4 seasons, a deal that will most certainly age poorly for the Wings.

Jack Campbell: 5 years, $5M AAV

For years, goaltending has seemingly held back the Oilers’ generational core highlighted by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. That won’t change with Jack Campbell between the pipes. Over Campbell’s last 29 games last season, he posted a .895 save percentage, to go along with -21.74 goals saved above expected. Jack Campbell is sneakily old, the American netminder will turn 31 next season. His 5-year deal will take him to his age 36 season, not exactly an ideal way to maximize the primes of McDavid, and Draisaitl.

Nic Deslauriers: 4 years $1.75M AAV

Talk about a puzzling deal, the Philadelphia Flyers inked Nic Deslauriers, an all-physicality 4th liner to a 4-year deal. Entering his age 31 season, Deslauriers is a veteran minimum caliber player. Why would a rebuilding franchise make this move? Who knows. Deslauriers will only block opportunities for the Flyers’ young forwards and projects to hurt Philly more than he’ll help. Chuck Fletcher is inching closer to losing his job one move at a time.

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