A bargain contract is best for a team, and not a player. The player is outperforming his salary, meaning the team is saving money on their cap and getting more bang for their buck. There are many players in the league who should be making millions more than they are currently, and they will have to wait for their current deals to expire before they can can receive a pay raise to match their level of play.
With the trade deadline looming, some players on these bargain contracts (mediocre players at least) will be sought after by contending teams to make their line up better while creating a good cap situation.
Here are some (not all) of the best bargain or "team friendly" contracts in the NHL.
Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues
With a current cap hit of $4.25 million, it is easy to see how he is receiving less than he should. Shattenkirk plays tough minutes for the Blues each game, while still playing the powerplay and penalty kill. He is asked to do a lot, and he delivers like one of the best defencemen in the league. He also chips in offensively, scoring 40 points in 49 games played this season.
James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs
Just like Shattenkirk, JVR has a cap hit of $4.25 million. He signed his current deal before he broke out as an offensive force. He can hit, and his big size allows him to control the puck in any zone of the ice. He is always parked in front of the net, and is great at tipping the puck or controlling rebounds. He scored 30 goals last season, and may be able to crack that again this season despite horrible play by his team this season. He could be making a full million more than he is now.
Jamie Benn/Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
Benn captains the stars with a $5.25 million salary, and Seguin is his offensive centre with a salary of $5.75 million. Both players scored a point per game last season (their first together), and this season Benn is on pace for exactly that while Seguin was fighting for the NHL scoring lead before he got injured. For what their salaries are worth, they should be earning millions more as their offensive capabilities along with their leadership roles on the team have grown these past two seasons.
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
One of the best offensive defencemen in the game, Karlsson earns a modest $6.5 million. If Subban should earn $9 million this season, imagine what Erik could have got if he had just waited a little longer to sign a long term deal. No other defenceman can score like he does, as he had 78 points in 81 games in 2012, 14 points in 17 games in 2013 (due to injury), and 74 points in 82 games last season. He can score more than most forwards in the game, making his salary a huge bargain for the Senators.
Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens
At a modest $4.5 million, the Canadiens were able to lock Pacioretty up at a salary that is not worth what a 30 goal scorer should have. In 2012, 2014, and now this season, Pacioretty has led the Canadiens in scoring and enjoyed 30 goal seasons in all three. Last season, he was one goal shy of 40, and he might be able to hit that mark this season. He is an offensive force in the League but he is one of those players that aren't really recognized for it. In his next deal, he won't be getting anything less than $6 million.
John Tavares, New York Islanders
The cornerstone of the Islanders franchise and their captain, Tavares plays for just $5.5 million. He has been a point per game player since the 2012 season, and his leadership has proven to showcase him as one of the best captains in the league. The superstar scores, plays, and leads more than a $5.5 million player should, making his current contract a steal for the islanders. To show how big of a steal it is, Nick Leddy just signed for the same price as Tavares. Leddy is a good player, but not at Tavares' caliber, but they are both making the same amount of money. Sorry John.