Top 10 Overpaid Centres in the NHL in 2021-22

In the second installment of the series looking at the top 10 overpaid players at each position, we look at centremen. This is made up of NHL centres who have been paid a good amount but their stats and performance have not matched. It is heavily relied on the players’ performance from this season, with some carryover from recent years.

10. Colin White ($4.75 million)

The last spot on this list was tough considering Colin White has started his season pretty well for the Ottawa Senators as he’s played in just six games, scoring one goal and five points. On a healthy team, he is a third-line centre at best and he still has three years left on his deal. The good news is that despite a big drop-off from his rookie season in 2018-19 where he had 41 points, he is still young and there is time and opportunity with a solid younger group around him in Ottawa.

Since White has only played six games this season due to a pre-season shoulder injury that kept him out. So we will base more of his production from last year on how much he makes. In 45 games, he posted 10 goals and 18 points and his shooting percentage was well above his career average. His faceoff percentage was also horrible at 42.3. It’s not much better this season at 44.4 percent so far.

9. Ryan Johansen ($8 million)

It was definitely a close one between spots eight and nine considering both players make the exact same amount per season and have put up the same number of points. The reason Nashville Predators’ center Ryan Johansen is lower is he has a bit better of a contract than Logan Couture, the eighth placeholder. Johansen is three years younger and has two less years remaining on his deal.

Ryan Johansen Nashville Predators
Ryan Johansen, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Johansen has 14 goals and 41 points to this point in the season and has really stepped his game up from last season where he would’ve surely been much higher, recording just seven goals and 22 points. He plays top-line minutes and has an expected goals for percentage (xGF%) of 55.39 which is solid.

8. Logan Couture ($8 million)

Despite having the same number of points and making the same amount as Johansen as I stated above, Couture’s contract is less ideal. The San Jose Sharks captain is just one of a number of not-so-great contracts of aging veterans on a team that isn’t in playoff contention.

Though not even the worst contract on his team, not many centremen in the league this season have that bad of contracts. By the way, the league is headed though and the flat cap, $8 million is a lot of money for a player that can’t at least put up a point per game and drive a team.

7. Mikael Backlund ($5.35 million)

The first of two Calgary Flames’ centremen is Mikael Backlund. The money is manageable for a player on the second line, but his production doesn’t match. He has just eight goals and 26 points in 56 games played this season, less than 0.5 points per game. With a number of other players on the Flames putting up great seasons around him, it emphasizes the season he’s really had.

This is the third season in a row where he’s dropped off production-wise. But his cap hit is manageable right now on a team where nobody makes over $7 million a year. If his decline continues, this contract will look even worse, even though there are just two years remaining.

6. Kevin Hayes ($7.143 million)

The Philadelphia Flyers have been known to spread out their forward lines, but as the top paid centreman on the roster and second-highest-paid player on the team, Kevin Hayes is lining up on the third line behind Scott Laughton and Derick Brassard. As a player who was brought in and paid to contribute both offensively and defensively, his xGF% is very bad (42.07) and even on a depleted team, he is playing lower in the lineup.

Kevin Hayes Philadelphia Flyers
Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Where in the lineup someone is playing can definitely determine whether or not the money he is making is worth it. With Sean Couturier out, Laughton not having much better xGF% than Hayes, and Brassard most likely on the move, it speaks to what kind of season Hayes is having on a struggling Flyers.

5. Jordan Staal ($6 million)

Although he is the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes and a great leader, Jordan Staal’s production and place in the lineup is what has him on this list. He makes $6 million a season for another year after this one and his production has really dropped off from last season, recording eight fewer goals and 17 fewer points in one more game.

Not only has his offence taken a hit but so has his defensive game. On a team as good as defending as the Hurricanes, Staal has the worst xGF% of any forward on the team to play more than a couple of games

4. Tyler Seguin ($9.85 million)

Tyler Seguin had a very tough start to the season, scoring just nine goals and 13 points in the first 35 games of the season. Despite picking up his play a bit, he has still been streaky and not produced at the level he is being paid for. As one of the highest-paid players in the league, 31 points in 55 games looks bad and the Dallas Stars are lucky they have a number of players outperforming their contracts.

Tyler Seguin Dallas Stars
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He does have 17 goals, but that almost seems like the only thing he can do, and goal-scoring is generally streaky with every player. He could still be finding his game after missing all but three games last season, but the contract will continue to look bad unless he is able to get back to the 70-80 points a season he used to play at.

3. Sean Monahan ($6.375 million)

The second centreman from the Flames and the only team that features two players on this list is Sean Monahan. His fall from grace has been massive, scoring 27-plus goals in five straight seasons culminating in an 82-point season in 2018-19. Since then his production has trailed off and he has a minimal impact on the team.

Monahan is making over $1 million more than his teammate Backlund while playing on the fourth line. No player making nearly this much money per season should be playing on the bottom line. In 56 games played this season, Monahan has only eight goals and 22 points while he is a minus-15 on the Flames who are plus-58 as a team.

2. Victor Rask ($4 million)

Coming in as the second-most overpaid centre in the league is Victor Rask. That is if you can even consider him in the league. The Minnesota Wild has him and his $4 million contract in the American Hockey League (AHL). He has played just 29 games while recording five goals and 13 points but even when he has been with the team he was a third liner at best and averaged just 10:43 a game.

Related: Top 10 Overpaid Goalies in the NHL in 2021-22

The young players of the Wild have passed him and forced management to have him play in the minors. I’d say paying a player $4 million to not even contribute to the team is a bad deal, considering most players make much less than that playing in the AHL.

1. Jonathan Toews ($10.5 million)

Number one on the list, as you may have guessed, is Jonathan Toews. His contract used to be fair for the Chicago Blackhawks’ captain that led them to three Stanley Cups, won a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Selke Trophy. Now, he has had a very tough time scoring goals and even putting up points with five goals and 13 points this season.

Jonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He is having the worst season of his career by a longshot as well as posting the worst plus/minus of his career as well. His defence hasn’t been bad, but for $10.5 million a year, he has to be able to help out in every situation and be impactful every night which he hasn’t been. Maybe like Seguin, this former superstar needs a bit more time to get up to speed and we could see the production increase as soon as next year.

Any surprises above? Let me know in the comments if you agree with the list or who should be switched around.