How Ignoring Analytics Has Led to the NHL’s Worst Contracts

January 4th, 2016 by Jonathan Willis Leave a reply »

It makes sense that the beginning of the NHL’s analytics era has coincided almost exactly with the arrival of a league salary cap. With every dollar now precious, and with big-budget teams just as cost-conscious as small-market clubs, any advantage is worth pursuing.

The extent of the advantage offered by having a department dedicated to the statistical study of the game is still arguable.

At the very least, a long look at the numbers can prevent teams from making costly mistakes. That becomes undeniable when we look at some of the worst contracts around the league—long-term, big-money pacts which have become albatrosses in their early years.

Consider three of the most prominent examples and the warnings written in advance based on statistical trends. Each of these players is around 30 years old, past his expected statistical peak but still at a place where we would not generally see a steep decline in performance.

Andrew MacDonald’s contract is widely considered one of the worst in the NHL. The 29-year-old defenceman is in the second year of a six-year, $30 million pact whic ...

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