Tampa Bay Lightning: Top 5 Worst Contracts In Team History

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Jun 13, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning fans cheer after they scored a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at game five of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Former Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vaclav ‘Vinny’ Prospal had a few succesful seasons with the team, but his last contract was not a good one.

Who remembers ole Vinny Prospal? Well, you know he’s old when you cant even find a picture of him for this article, but that is besides the point. Anyways, Vinny Prospal probably has the all-time Lightning record for the most times entering and leaving the organization during a career. There were three different instances were Prospal was wearing a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform and each time he was here, he seemed to always find a way to put the puck in the back of the net.

The thing that makes Prospal’s situation different from the rest of the players on this list is the fact that he was bought out of his third contract with the team while he was still producing offensively. Why was this? Well, at the time, General Manager Brian Lawton felt that the streaky scorer could be replaced by a more dynamic forward that would produce more offensively. Here is his official statement:

"“After fully evaluating our roster and our position in the salary cap world, we arrived at the decision to buy out Vaclav Prospal from his contract. We appreciate Vinny’s service to the Lightning, but in the best interest of the team, we believe a difficult decision needed to be made in this case and we are going to move ahead without him. We wish Vinny all the best,”"

Over his six seasons with the team, Prospal scored 127 goals and 371 points including a 45 point year in 2008-09. Before the 2008-09 season, the then 33-year-old Prospal signed a four-year, $14 million dollar contract that would have kept the Czechoslovakian native with the team past the 2011-12 season.

Lawton made the move to increase production at the forward position and they felt like they could find someone better to fill Prospal’s role. Well, Mr. Lawton decided to signed Alex Tanguay instead, and we all know how THAT worked out.

The buyout caused a $1.17 million dollar cap hit until the end of the 2014-15 season. So, this season was the first in six years that Prospal’s buyout did not affect the team’s current salary cap. All of this to replace what was already a decent 40 point scorer making $3.5 million dollars per season for bust in Alex Tanguay and a hit on the salary cap for six seasons. Nice move, Mr. Lawton.

Next: Number 3: Mattias Ohlund