10 Worst Returns on Investment

Here at the Sports Forecaster, we are all about data and how those data points work together. Yesterday, we looked at the 10 best returns on investment so far. Today we are looking at the 10 worst returns on investment so far with most teams having played 15 games (on average).

How is return on investment measured? We are looking for the worst points per game and how that compares to players' current salaries.  For safe measure, we’ve eliminated all players that have not yet played 10 games and all players making less than $1M.

Before we start with our top 10, here are notable players that just missed the list: Marc Bureau – LA (1 point in 14 games, $1.4M), Andrei Lomakin – Long Island (0 points in 14 games, $1.8M), Mike Keane – Philadelphia (0 points in 14 games, $1.5M)

10. Gord Kluzak – Colorado ($1.85M)

Gord Kluzak, a member of the Colorado Rockies, has played 15 games and has scored a big fat 0 points. Not exactly a defensive defenseman, Kluzak does have some offensive prowess scoring 27 points both in 1992 and 1993. Most of those points though were with the LA Kings and St. Louis Blues. Since joining the Rockies, his role has been more limited. Last season, in 22 games with Colorado, he managed only 3 points.  This season he’s only playing 5.5 minutes per game on average. If any team can afford a defenseman for close to $2M to mostly ride the bench, it's Colorado.

9. Gord Murphy – St Louis ($1.95M)

Another defenseman in the top 10 and another named Gord. Coincidence? Yes absolutely! But whereas Kluzak has offensive skills, Murphy is more of the stay-at-home type.  Unfortunately for him, “home” is at the bottom of the standings playing for the Blues. St Louis is having a tough year that many did not see coming. There’s nothing wrong with playing a defensive role, but at close to $2M in salary, the Blues need Murphy to chip in some offense as much as he’s trying to stop the goals from coming in.

8. Doug Smith – Hartford ($2.3M)

Another member of the 0 points club, Smith has the benefit of having played only 12 games. Surely, his first point will come in the 13th game?  The Whalers are a top team and need every one of their forwards to produce, especially when they earn that much.  It may be difficult, though, as Smith is only playing 4.6 minutes per game, mostly on the 4th line.  Then again, Mario Lemieux was centering his line last game so what excuse does he really have? Editor's Note: Smith played his 13th game, with Lemieux at center, and he still has no points.

7. Dave Donnelly – Pittsburgh ($2.5M)

Another player, another team.  Unlike yesterday’s article, every single player here is from a different team.  Donnelly is Pittsburgh’s representative and has a measly 2 assists in 16 games.  He plays an average of 10 minutes a game although last game for some reason he was only used on the 2nd penalty kill unit. Hard to get points when your coach is not using you.  Pittsburgh is fighting for a playoff spot this season and will need more from Donnelly at the salary he commands.  Donnelly hasn’t produced less than 40 points since 1989 and is typically a 0.57 PPG player so something is clearly up with him. 

6. Andy Brickley – Toronto ($3.5M)

Andy Brickley started the season in Minnesota who waived him after his poor start.  After going unclaimed, he was dealt to Toronto for an 18-year-old longshot prospect and a draft pick.  He hasn’t fared much better in Toronto.  He has one point in 14 games between the two teams.  Brickley had a breakthrough season in Minny last year with 80 points in 79 games good for 1.01 PPG.  How the mighty have fallen.  In Toronto, he is getting 3rd line minutes which should be sufficient for at least 20-30 points but he’s currently on pace for only 6. That’s an expensive $583K per point.

5. Owen Nolan – Boston ($4M)

Probably the most shocking name on this list, Nolan clearly has no business here.  The 22-year-old super prospect is playing isolated minutes on the 4th line and is barely playing 5 minutes per game.  He is capable of so much more and you would think the powerhouse Bruins would want to capitalize on his skills considering the salary he commands.  That being said, Boston simply has better options on the RW with Palffy, Fleury, and Larmer ahead of him in the depth chart, so Nolan is really just biding his time, ready to strike.  Nolan’s salary is not really his fault or the team’s either. The Islanders targeted him with an offer sheet which Boston easily matched.

4. David Shaw – Philadelphia ($4.5M)

David Shaw signed an offer sheet back in 1991 with Washington when he was an asset of the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres received Mats Naslund and Jeff Nelson in return.  The Caps received a young promising forward.  Shaw was then traded in 1992 as part of the Gretzky deal from Washington to Edmonton before landing a few days later in Philadelphia.  Shaw has a certain pedigree and offensive ability.  Although he’s struggled to repeat his 42-point season from 1989, he’s produced a minimum of 25 points each season since, including last season with 28 points in 71 games.  His current 2 goals in 11 games puts him on pace for a lowly 15 points.  Here at the Forecaster, we believe strongly that this contract is not only a bad ROI this season but likely has been since day one.  The Flyers will likely be happy to see it expire at the end of this season, where chances are, he will become a UFA.

2 and 3. Vyacheslav Kozlov – New York ($8M) & Brian Rafalski – Montreal ($8M)

We lump these 2 together because of the similarities between the two. The $8M men are both young promising players who are paid way more than they potentially will ever be worth.  Only time will tell.   Kozlov was the target of an offer sheet from the Islanders, but the Rangers quickly matched the offer.  Kozlov’s 6 points in 14 games as a rookie is actually a decent showing but considering he’s paid $8M a year, he will need to do better than a pace of 35 points. 

Rafalski is slightly different, his salary not the result of an offer sheet but rather an intense competitive free agency process. At the end of the day, not only did he extract the $8M salary, but he also managed to get extra funds through a signing bonus, which makes him the $13M man. And though $13M and only 3 assists through 14 games and a -13 rating should be enough to take the #1 spot, we will give him some leeway here as he’s only 22.

Both teams hope that both those players will see their salaries drop next year.

1. James Patrick – Colorado ($8M)

The “real” $8M man, James Patrick has 3 more years in his deal at $8M/year after collecting his first $8M last season. That’s an incredible $32M dished out in 4 years. The Rockies outbid 7 other teams to sign him.  After scoring 45 points in 79 games last season, his worst season since 1987, he’s got only 5 points in 12 games so far, good only for 33 points on the season.  Rumor has it GM Smith is having buyer’s regret and is shopping his star player.   Question is, with Patrick starting to age, he seems to be slowing down so it’s not clear that the same 7 teams from last year will still be interested in acquiring Patrick a year later.   No doubt his name appearing on this list will not help his trade value. 


There you have it folks, the top 10 worst investments so far this season! Kudos to the 17 teams who don’t have a player on this list.

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-The Sports Forecaster