Often, it’s not the average annual value of a contract that handcuffs a team, but rather the length. Just recent examples of this include guys like Patrick Marleau and Scott Darling. The problem at the outset wasn’t how much money they were getting every year, but how long the deal was. The Leafs ran into a problem in the third year of Marleau’s deal, which was predictable, and when Darling couldn’t perform as he did in Chicago, the back half of the contract became a problem as well.
This was the panic with Wayne Simmonds, a guy who was very good as recently as a couple years ago but whose play has fallen off significantly since. He ended up with a one-year deal from New Jersey worth $5M.
What New Jersey gets
It’s not hyperbole to say that Simmonds’s play has fallen off a cliff the last couple years. By Evolving Hockey’s goals above replacement (GAR), Simmonds averaged nearly 10 GAR each from from 2013-2016. His total put him in the range of other top wingers around the league like Gabriel Landeskog, Jaden Schwartz, Brendan Gallagher, and Justin Williams. That declined in 2016-17 but he was still a solid player. The 2017-18 campaign was where he fell off a cliff – he did have a lot of injuries lingering all year, to be fair – and 2018-19 continued that trend. His GAR over the last two years has been in the range of guys like Milan Lucic, Leo Komarov, and Zemgus Girgensons. That’s a precipitous fall.
Of course, that’s why he got a one-year deal. This is his chance to prove t