Last night Carolina Hurricanes’ GM Jim Rutherford posted an odd tweet:
It looks like we are going to be able to get Jeff Skinner tied up for a number of years. Exciting news for our franchise.
— Jim Rutherford (@HurricanesGM) August 7, 2012
“It looks like?” What an odd thing to say – either A) you ARE able to get him locked up for “a number of years,” or B) keep your mouth shut until it’s certain, right? But ANYWAY…
It’s a done deal. According to Bob McKenzie of the Canadian Cottage and Hammock company (wait, actually it’s TSN, he’s just on vacay), the deal is for six years and 34.35 million dollars, a cap hit of 5.725 million bucks a season.
The new deal will pay Jeff Skinner $4,350,000 in 2013-14 and $6 million per season from the 2014-15 season through the 2018-19 season.
— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) August 8, 2012
The Hurricanes are not fooling around.
The contract keeps Skinner on board until he’s 27 (he’s 20 and has a year left on his entry-level deal), and eats up two years where he would qualify as an unrestricted free agent.
So, the analysis: too much, just right, or not enough?
I think it’s safe to rule out “not enough” when you’re discussing a player with no leverage – it’s not like you have to pay market value when you’re not battling competing offers.
The risk here with Skinner is that he’s had some concussion issues already as a younger guy, so the long-term bet might make Rutherford a bit uneasy. Committing to him for this long also shows a lot of confidence that he can improve on his best NHL season to date. The good news is, there’s plenty of reason to believe he can, which means we can probably rule out “too much,” too.
Skinner hit the 20 goal plateau last year despite only playing 64 games – in his only other year in the League, his rookie season, he potted 31 en route to 63 points. This is a kid that hit 50 goals (and 90 points) in a 64 game OHL season. He can put up numbers, and goal-scoring is a skill that’s tough to come by, so you have to pay to get (and keep) it.
The cap hit isn’t at all bad if the Canes bet is right – you’d happily pay that much money for a guy consistently grabbing 70-80 points a year, and Skinner has the potential to exceed that. I believe it was Twitter-ite @draglikepull who mentioned the deal could play out a lot like Phil Kessel’s, which has been fantastic for the Leafs. You also have to remember that the Canes are paying for the best years of a guy’s career, so it’s gonna cost a bit.
A franchise like Carolina needs stars, they need recognizable names to succeed, and this guarantees they’ve got another one for a long time.
If Skinner can stay healthy and manage to grow his game, $5.725 will look perfectly fair, and will be a number the Canes are happy to pay.