In the NHL, it's critical for a team to navigate the salary cap to have success. Even more so than in other sports, as the NHL has a hard cap with fewer ways to manipulate it. As such, it's not uncommon for one or two bad contracts to completely sink a team.

On the other hand, good contracts can push a contending team over the top. This is especially true when a team can get its star player(s) on a bargain relative to what they provide.

With the offseason winding down, it seems like a good time to look at some of the NHL's best contracts. Before we get into it, though, let's go over how we're ranking these deals. The Athletic recently released an article ranking the top 10 contracts in the league, and in said article, a metric known as positive value probability is used. That's not the only metric that factored into the rankings, but it played a huge role in them.

With that out of the way, here are the four players who earned a positive value probability of over 90 percent.

4. Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche

Remaining contract: 4 years, $9 million AAV (94 percent PVP)

The Avalanche thought they missed out when, after an absolutely abysmal 2016-17 season in which they finished with just 48 points, they lost the draft lottery to fall to the No. 4 pick. However, that sentiment quickly changed when Cale Makar, the player they selected with that pick, made his debut.

Makar quickly developed into one of the best defensemen in the game, and is now widely seen as THE best. He was great in his first two seasons, but really became a superstar in 2021-22 when he scored 28 goals and 58 assists. That same season, the first of his new extension, he won the Norris Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy while leading the Avalanche to the Stanley Cup. It's telling that he was still a Norris finalist this past season even after missing over a quarter of the year.

Makar was already a star when he signed this deal in July 2021, so it was already a steal. Now that he has asserted himself as the league's top blue-liner, it's an even bigger steal.

3. Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils

Remaining contract: 7 years, $8 million AAV (94 percent PVP)

Jack Hughes, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, actually took a while to get going. He fell well below expectations in his first two seasons, although he was still a teenager so it's understandable. Still, New Jersey stuck with him and gave him a huge extension early into his third season. It may have been a risky play at the time, but now, the Devils look like absolute geniuses.

Hughes broke through and scored at over a point-per-game pace in 2021-22, but emerged as a true superstar in 2022-23. The 22-year-old scored a career-high 43 goals and 56 assists, setting a franchise record with 99 points. Hughes also plays a strong two-way game, so he's not just there to put up points. He finished as the runner-up for the Lady Byng Trophy and even earned a handful of Hart Trophy votes.

The Devils were proactive in signing their future superstar, and it has paid off immensely. Because they have Hughes at a manageable cap hit for so long, they were able to make moves like trading for Timo Meier at the deadline and extending him, as well as their recent trade for Tyler Toffoli. New Jersey now has one of the brightest futures in the league, largely thanks to Hughes and his amazing contract.

2. Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers

Remaining contract: 7 years, $9.5 million AAV (96 percent PVP)

The Panthers made an extremely bold move last summer, trading a massive haul to the Calgary Flames to acquire a disgruntled Tkachuk. Florida traded away its top point-scorer in Jonathan Huberdeau, its best defenseman in Mackenzie Weever, a prospect and a first-round pick for Tkachuk, who it immediately signed to a long-term deal. Despite all they gave up, the Panthers would easily do it all over again.

Matthew Tkachuk had an incredible debut season in South Florida, scoring 40 goals and 69 points while maintaining his status as one of the game's best agitators to finish as a Hart finalist. He was then electric in the playoffs with clutch goal after clutch goal, leading the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Final. If Florida had won it all, and Tkachuk hadn't gotten injured in the Final, he would've had a very strong argument for the Conn Smythe.

Tkachuk is truly a one-of-a-kind player in the NHL (technically two-of-a-kind with his brother Brady). He could easily make around $12 million annually for the next several years and be well worth it. Instead, though, the Panthers have him for essentially his entire prime at a cap hit of under $10 million. An absolute steal by any standard.

1. Jason Robertson, Dallas Stars

Remaining contract: 3 years, $7.8 million AAV (97 percent PVP)

Prior to last season, Robertson, a RFA at the time, held out of the Stars' training camp as he sought a new deal. Dallas eventually ponied up, signing him to a four-year pact worth $7.8 million annually.

Jason Robertson improved on his already-great performance from the year before, scoring 46 goals and 109 points this season. He finished fourth in Hart voting, and cemented himself as one of the best snipers in the game.

The thing with this contract is that unlike with Hughes and Tkachuk, this is more of a bridge deal than a long-term one. When it expires in 2026, Robertson is going to get PAID, likely to one of the richest deals in the league, and rightfully so. Because of the shorter term, The Athletic actually ranked this contract at No. 8 on its rankings (Tkachuk, Hughes and Makar were No. 1, 2 and 3, respectively). In terms of PVP, though, Robertson just barely edged out Tkachuk for the top spot.

The shorter term does drag this deal down in context, and it's easy to see why. In isolation, though, paying someone who can regularly score over 40 goals less than $8 million a season is a dream come true.