Top 10 Overpaid Wingers in the NHL in 2021-22

In the third installment of the series looking at the most overpaid players at each position, we will look at wingers. At the beginning of their contracts, a number of these wingers weren’t overpaid. However, as most of their deals are ending, they look worse as they get older. The rankings are based heavily on this season with some consideration of recent years.

10. Jeff Skinner ($9 million AAV)

Jeff Skinner fell right off a cliff since signing his big contract to stay a member of the Buffalo Sabres for eight years. This was right after recording a 40-goal season beside Jack Eichel and made this contract look like the worst in the league. That has really changed this year, as he has played much better than the previous two seasons.

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Skinner has recorded eight multi-goal games this season. He had only seven goals in 53 games last season. That just shows the improvement and elevated play we’ve seen out of him. He has 26 goals and 45 points on a poor Sabres team that is bound to miss the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season.

He has an average annual value (AAV) of $9 million, which would be worth it if he was scoring 40 goals a season on the top line. He is back on the top line after being demoted the past couple of seasons, but to make as much as he does, he would have to at least be a point-per-game player for the contract to be worth it. If he wasn’t closely approaching 30 goals on the season, Skinner would definitely find himself higher on this list. There’s hope for the future in Buffalo if he can continue to produce.

9. Dustin Brown ($5.875 million AAV)

Dustin Brown is the next name on this list. Due to his role on the team at this point in his career and the amount of money he makes for his production, he is now overpaid in the last year of his contract. He is now playing on the third line on the Los Angeles Kings, and there’s no way for him to get top-six minutes anymore.

Throughout his career, his Corsi for percentage (CF%) has always been very good, and this season is no different. However, other than a short stretch where he was putting up points earlier in the season, he has been pretty invisible. Brown’s scored just eight goals in 57 games compared to his 17 in 49 games last season. He hardly produces on the power play and hasn’t been a penalty killer in three seasons.

8. Jakob Silfverberg ($5.25 million AAV)

Jakob Silfverberg is one of those names I mentioned above that is deep into his contract and isn’t worth his AAV anymore. He has scored fewer goals (five), fewer points (21), and also had little impact on the power play. He is paid a bit less and has also played more than Brown. Having said that, Silfverberg’s underlying analytics are pretty bad, as the other team has dominated the puck while he’s been on the ice.

He has two years remaining on this deal, and lucky for the Anaheim Ducks, they aren’t strapped for cap space with how this contract looks and will look for its remainder. He took a step back last season with eight goals and 16 points in 47 games, and there hasn’t been much of a rebound at all.

7. Milan Lucic ($6 million, Calgary pays $5.25 million AAV)

The Calgary Flames and their fans have accepted Milan Lucic as a third- or fourth-line player in a checking role who also contributes a bit offensively. However, he is overpaid to do that. He is paid $6 million per season, but the Flames only have to pay $5.25 million of that, while the Edmonton Oilers cover the rest.

Milan Lucic Calgary Flames
Milan Lucic, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This contract has been workable, and Lucic has found a role and played well given the expectations since arriving, just not for the amount of money. After this season, he has one year remaining, which will now start to hurt the Flames as they have to try and sign Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau, Andrew Mangiapane, and Oliver Kylington in the summer. They’re all going to command more while Lucic takes up a good chunk of the money.

Lucic has just 10 goals and 19 points in the bottom-six, but he barely contributes to special teams and is one of the slowest players in the league. He does still use the part of his game that got him to the NHL, and that’s the physical style of hockey. He or another player could easily be paid half of what he is making to do that job though.

6. Phil Kessel ($8 million, Arizona pays $6.8 million AAV)

Phil Kessel is someone that you may have forgotten about. His name fell off in trade deadline talks, and there was no team willing to add someone making as much as him even with retained salary. Obviously, the Arizona Coyotes have had a tough year, but they have been playing better in the second half.

It is the first time in Kessel’s career that he’s really struggled to score goals, and he may finish the season with his lowest total in his 16-year career. He has just seven to this point and has always been known for his speed and shot to create those opportunities. Though he has 39 points, which isn’t horrible for a team with the talent Arizona has, he is not worth $8 million anymore, even if the Coyotes are only paying him $6.8 million of that. The last time he was worth it was three seasons ago in his final year in Pittsburgh.

5. James van Riemsdyk ($7 million AAV)

James van Riemsdyk has really fallen off from last year despite still being able to put the puck in the net a decent amount. He would have to play to the level he did last season to stay off this list. In 65 games, he has just 16 goals and 28 points, the first time since his rookie season that he’s under 0.5 points per game.

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

He still has the ability to score power-play goals by the way he plays in front of the net, but compared to last year, he has one less goal and 15 fewer points in nine more games. With all the injuries they’ve had this season, the Philadelphia Flyers were hoping he would be one to step up with increased ice time and opportunities after what he did in 2020-21. It just never happened. Despite having a solid CF%, partly because he starts in the offensive zone much more often, he is a minus-28, the second-worst in his career, and there are still 17 games left.

4. Jamie Benn ($9.5 million AAV)

Jamie Benn hasn’t completely fallen off, but the younger members of the Dallas Stars have passed by the veterans, pushing them down the lineup and into lesser roles. This makes his $9.5 million deal look like an overpayment now. To justify making this much, he would have to be at least a point-per-game player and add more to his game. He is the captain and a physical player, but he has averaged just 0.59 points per game. He is now centering the third line.

Jamie Benn Dallas Stars
Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He is and has been a winger, but the Dallas Stars decided to shift him to centre after the acquisition of Vladislav Namestnikov. This former All-Star has had a few down years in a row and hasn’t been able to be the offensive threat he once was. His deal still has three more years remaining on it, and that’s not good for the Stars who have some young studs who will be needing new contracts.

3. Alexander Radulov ($6.25 million AAV)

Alexander Radulov is the second player from the Stars to appear on this list and one of two pairs of teammates on here. Despite making over $3 million less than Benn, his offence has been abysmal this season. Radulov has gone five stretches of four or more games where he has gone pointless, and he has one multi-point game all season, coming against the Coyotes before they started playing better.

Radulov has just four goals and 21 points in 57 games this season. He hasn’t been able to produce anywhere close to what is expected of him. Luckily for the Stars, it’s the final year of his contract. Radulov’s shooting percentage is ridiculously low which has been a factor in why he hasn’t contributed as much offensively. He’s shooting at a rate of 5.2 percent after having never shot lower than 11.4 percent in any season previously.

2. Brendan Gallagher ($6.5 million AAV)

Brendan Gallagher is another player who hasn’t been able to help offensively and a reason why the Montreal Canadiens are the first team eliminated from playoff contention. He still has much too long left on his deal, as he’s under contract for five more seasons. His shooting percentage, like Radulov, is low. But that’s not an excuse since he is taking significantly fewer shots than he has in his career.

Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens
Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Gallagher is the highest-paid player on the current roster but is ninth in points per game. He isn’t relied on defensively, which can sometimes allow players to make up for struggles offensively. He starts just 38.1 percent of the time in his own end and doesn’t play on the penalty kill. With only five goals and 14 points at this AAV, the Canadiens are lucky they’re in a rebuild and can afford to throw money at players underperforming.

1. Loui Eriksson ($6 million AAV)

The most overpaid winger in the NHL should have been fairly obvious. After signing a big six-year, $36 million contract before the 2016-17 season, the signing of Loui Eriksson immediately backfired for the Vancouver Canucks. He’s failed to even hit the 30-point mark in a season since scoring 60-plus points in five seasons before signing this deal.

This season has been arguably his worst, as he has just two goals and 15 assists in 55 games. He is not a top-six player, and on almost any other team, he isn’t making their roster. The Coyotes only took him on to get assets back for the future from the Canucks and to help them reach the cap floor. His contract is so bad that’ll it be tough for him to find an NHL deal next season.

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

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