NHL players make a lot of money and of course the very best earn top dollar for their efforts. There are some who for various reasons are earning far more than their worth, so here's a look at the top 10 overpaid NHL stars. --Spector
Marian Gaborik, NY Rangers
$7.5 million per season. Rangers GM Glen Sather rolled the dice last summer by signing Gaborik to a five year, $37.5 million contract. The 27-year-old Slovakian winger is an impressive offensive talent ... when healthy. Gaborik missed considerable time to hip, back and groin injuries throughout his career but Sather nevertheless was willing to pay him big money to anchor the Rangers' offensive game. If Gaborik can stay healthy over the next five years it could pay off handsomely. But given that injury history the odds are against it, making him an expensive gamble for the Blueshirts.
Thomas Vanek, Buffalo Sabres
$7.143 million per season. The Buffalo Sabres were forced to pay Vanek his current seven-year, $50 million contract in 2007 to prevent losing him to the Edmonton Oilers via offer sheet. At the time Vanek was coming off an 84-point performance but since then has followed it up with two 64-point seasons. The 25-year-old winger is a talented sniper but at this point in his career he's yet to play up to the expectations attached to that huge salary.
Daniel Briere, Philadelphia Flyers
$6.5 million per season. Two strong seasons with the Buffalo Sabres netted Briere an eight-year, $52 million contract with the Flyers but in his first season in Philly he netted 72 points in 79 game and missed most of last season with abdominal and groin injuries. A promising start to this season has been put on hold by another groin injury. When healthy, Briere is a very talented player but it appears the Flyers have paid too much for too long for a too-fragile scorer.
Chris Drury, NY Rangers
$7.050 million per season. The Rangers signed Drury expecting him to provide the kind of experienced, two-way skill and leadership that helped lift the Buffalo Sabres to Eastern Conference Final appearances in 2006 and 2007. Drury's been giving his best effort but appears to have lost a step. It's not his fault the Rangers threw a lot of money at him but he's not worth a five-year, $35.25 million contract. He's another example of the Rangers overpaying for free-agent talent.
Scott Gomez, Montreal Canadiens
$7.357 million per season. The Rangers signed Gomez in 2007 hoping he'd be a good fit centering Jaromir Jagr's line but it was clear after one season the two weren't a match. After Jagr's departure Gomez struggled with lesser linemates and injuries, managing only 58 points. The Rangers were able to ship him to Montreal where he's been reunited with former Devils linemate Brian Gionta. Gomez is a slick playmaker capable of averaging 70 points per season but he's certainly not a $7 million per season player.
Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes
$8.25 million per season. Staal's status as the Hurricanes' franchise player and his strong postseason performances netted him a seven-year, $57.75 million contract, ranking him with Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as the only players currently earning more than $8 million per season. Since 2006-07 however he hasn't posted the kind of offensive numbers those players have, and 13 games into this season had only five points. Staal's a terrific player but apart from his 100-point performance in 2005-06 he hasn't posted the stats worthy of such a huge contract.
Ed Jovanovski, Phoenix Coyotes
$6.5 million per season. When the Coyotes inked Jovanovski to a five-year, $32.5 million contract then-general manager Michael Barnett called him "an impact player." While Jovanovski did have a career-best, 51-point performance with the Coyotes in 2007-08 he's had little impact upon actually improving the Coyotes. His star was much brighter when he was playing for the Vancouver Canucks as nowadays the 33-year-old is no longer considered among the league's top defensemen.
Wade Redden, NY Rangers
$6.5 million per season. Eyebrows were raised in 2008 when the Rangers not only signed Redden -- who struggled in his final two seasons in Ottawa -- to the same salary cap hit he earned with the Senators but also to a five-year term. Redden is one of the highest-paid defensemen in the league but to date he hasn't performed like one. Rangers GM Glen Sather has a history of overpaying for talent and Redden's contract is arguably his most expensive blunder.
Brad Richards, Dallas Stars
$7.8 million per season. When Richards signed his five-year, $39 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the summer of 2006 he was only two years removed from his 2004 playoff MVP performance and coming off a career-best 91-point effort in 2005-06. Unfortunately his stats have been in steady decline since then, the result of playing with lesser linemates in Tampa Bay and injuries since he was dealt to the Stars in 2008. It remains to be seen if he'll ever recover his high-scoring form so expect his next contract to be worth considerably less than $7.8 million per season.
Brian Campbell, Chicago Blackhawks
$7.140 million per season. His salary puts him in the same elite company as Norris-winning blueliners Nicklas Lidstrom and Zdeno Chara but he's clearly not in the same talent class as those superstars. His whopping eight-year, $56.8 million contract takes up so much salary cap space it could make it difficult for the Blackhawks to re-sign key players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. Campbell's a good puck-moving defenseman and he's not to blame for the Blackhawks overpaying him but he's definitely not worth over $7 million per season.