John Klingberg is the worst UFA signing in Toronto Maple Leafs history.
Over the course of 100 years, the Toronto Maple Leafs have signed many players to terrible contracts, but Klingberg's is officially the worst.
I know what you're thinking right now. You're going through the history of this team in your head and are thinking, "how could anyone be worse than David Clarkson?" Or what about the Jeff Finger and Mike Komisarek contracts?
We can chat about those briefly, but when you break it down, Klingberg's contract is definitely the worst.
John Klingberg Is the Worst UFA Signing in Toronto Maple Leafs History
The Toronto Maple Leafs signed right-winger Clarkson in July, 2013 to a with hopes that he'd be the next Wendel Clark. He was expected to be a power-forward who could also contribute offensively, but it went sour quick. He lasted 118 games with the team before he was shipped to Columbus for Nathan Horton's contract.
So, how could a seven-year contract worth $5.25M not be worse than Klingberg's one-year $4.15M deal?
Well, it's simply because the Leafs weren't any good when they signed Clarkson, so that money didn't matter as much. Not only that, but they got out of the contract 18 months later without a penalty. Sure it didn't work out, but they washed their hands clean with it almost right after they signed it and it kickstarted a much needed rebuild.
There's an argument to be had that the Clarkson signing was one of the most important in Leafs history because if Clarkson works out, maybe the team doesn't tank, and maybe they don't draft William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews, but I digress.
When it comes to Klingberg, GM Brad Treliving basically set $4M on fire by acquiring him. With so much money tied up to the Leafs top-four forwards, Treliving needed to spend his money wisely, but instead brought in a defenseman that every smart hockey person knew wouldn't help.
Let's compare a few more terrible contracts to Klingberg's.
Cliff Fletcher made a bone-head move signing Finger to a four-year deal worth $3.5M AAV, but he did it during a time where the Leafs stunk. The team didn't have top-end talent like it did now and they were never going to win a Stanley Cup anyway, so similar to Clarkson, the contract didn't hurt the team as much.
I'll never understand the dollar-figure and term that Fletcher gave Finger, but he essentially added a bad player to a team filled with bad players. It's essentially the same as a rich kid blowing their life savings at 25-years-old, compared to middle-income family doing so when the kids are about to go to college.
In this scenario, Fletcher was the 25-year-old who could blow all his money but get it all back a few years later without penalty. Whereas, this current Leafs team is the family that saved up for 18 years ready to pay for their kid's to graduate university/college and get a degree. But instead, they made a very poor financial decision and those kid's can't afford to graduate anymore.
As for Komisarek, people really like to yell and moan about this contract, but I really didn't think it was as bad as people remember. Sure, it was five years at $4.3M AAV and although , he was still a physical force who played a lot of minutes with the big club.
Injuries were a huge factor to Komisarek, but he was still someone you could put out on your third-pairing and he could be effective. His style of play would make him much more playable in the playoffs (if the Leafs ever made the playoffs), compared to Klingberg, who is unplayable right now.
This was a defining offseason for the Leafs. Everyone knew they needed defensive help, but instead, Treliving used $4.15M on a player that is one of the worst defensive defenseman in hockey.
You can argue and say that it's just because he's injured, but the fact that he's on LTIR right now is so fishy to me. The Leafs do probably follow all the rules, because of course the NHL is going to look into everything they do, but Robidas Island does seem to be conveniently full.
Either way, the Klingberg signing is the worst signing in Leafs history and could be the reason why this team doesn't go far in the playoffs this year.