Archive for the ‘Contracts’ Category

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Corey Crawford is 28 years old. He has one year at $2.66 million remaining on his current contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. When that deal expires, his newly signed six-year, $36 million extension will go into effect. When it expires in 2020, Crawford will be 35 years old.

It’s hard not to question Crawford’s massive extension. As a matter of fact, it’s incredibly easy to raise concerns about it. In a league that more and more is shelling out large quantities of money based more on potential than on past performance, it says a lot that Crawford’s new contract is this suspect. It’s especially true when the point of lengthy contracts on small sample sizes is to buy UFA years and save money in the long run, and this one pays a premium on a player who is a year away from UFA status.

Crawford’s first two seasons as a starter were uneven. He made 57 appearances in both 2010-11 and 2011-12, with the first year proving to be above average while the second year was decidedly disappointing. In 2010-11, Crawford was 33-18-6 with a 2.30/.917 split. Including only goaltenders to start at least half their team’s games, Crawford’s save percentage ranked 13th. In even-strength save percentage, Crawford was 16th in the league at .924. That’s perfectly fine for a first-year starter in the NHL.

Crawford then signed a three-year contract extension that ends after this season, and he spent 2011-12 looking like he wasn’t worth $2.66 million, never mind $6 million.

His win-loss totals were very similar in 2011-12, but if you’re the type of person that screams about wins and rings when defending a goaltender’s play, perhaps hockey isn’t your game. Maybe cheering on your child as he or she plays duck-duck-goose is more your speed. Or perhaps musical chairs would be easier for you to follow. But if you can’t see past the wins statistic, we shouldn’t be having this conversation.

Even with a 30-17-7 mark in Year 2, his other numbers fell off a cliff. Using the same criteria as earlier, his 2.72 GAA ranked him 25th in the NHL. His .903 save percentage ranked 27th. His .915 even-strength save percentage also ranked 27th. He was pulled from a start for ineffectiveness seven times. In a six-game first-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, Crawford had a measly .893 save percentage and lost three games in overtime, the last two losses coming on goals that could be described as either terrible or really terrible. Read the rest of this entry »

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At some point in the next 10 months, Henrik Lundqvist will become the highest-paid hockey goaltender on the planet. There’s also an outside chance the AAV for his potential eight-year contract with the New York Rangers will be the highest for any player in the league, regardless of the position.

Lundqvist, at this moment in time, is the best goaltender in the NHL. That is clearly an opinion, but one that is impossible to dispute. Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings can be part of the discussion, as long as he’s willing to sit quietly and accept that Lundqvist’s body of work is far more impressive. Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins is allowed to hang out in the waiting room but should be invited into the discussion after this season.

The pressing issue with Lundqvist’s contract – and really, that of all long-term contracts in every sport – is that by the time the contract reaches its final few years, Lundqvist will be nothing near the elite player he is now. Time is a serial killer, methodically destroying our bodies until we are food for worms. There is no stopping it. Sure, Lundqvist will still be sickeningly handsome when he’s 39, impregnating infertile women with only a glance from his piercing blue eyes, but his ability to stop NHL players from scoring goals will be severely diminished.

Lundqvist is 31 years old, and assuming he signs an eight-year contract, will be 39 when the deal expires. History shows goaltenders cease to be effective north of 36, so there could be a lot of dead years on Lundqvist’s contract at $9 million per season, and even with a salary cap that will considerably rise between now and then, that’s a lot of dead weight that will be impossible to completely remove from the roster.

Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek are arguably the two best goaltenders in the history of the NHL. Brodeur’s last truly effective season was 2009-10, when he was 37 years old. Yes, he reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, but he finished 34th out of 45 eligible goaltenders in save percentage that season, behind the likes of Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Bryzgalov.

Hasek, however, had more positive results as he aged. He had a pair of terrific seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07 with the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings, respectively. Hasek finished second in save percentage in 2005-06, the one caveat being he made just 41 starts in his age 39 season.  With the Red Wings the following season, Hasek finished 13th in save percentage as the team’s primary starter and reached the Western Conference Final.

It wasn’t entirely a fountain-of-youth story for Hasek, as retirement and a severe groin injury limited him to 14 games during his age 37 and 38 seasons. It’s also worth mentioning that Hasek didn’t make his NHL debut until he was 25 and didn’t become a starter until he was 28, minimizing the wear and tear on his body. Read the rest of this entry »

"The Philadelphia Flyers would like to announce that they do not understand the new CBA."

“The Philadelphia Flyers would like to announce that they do not understand the new CBA.”

Something in Elliotte Friedman’s always-excellent 30 Thoughts really caught my attention yesterday in a way that things in it often don’t. Not that the information isn’t always excellent, but it’s a lot of stuff like, “Oh, I’d never thought of it that way,” or “Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.” However, items Nos. 8 and 9 absolutely baffled me.

To excerpt:

Both Vincent Lecavalier and Daniel Briere have gone from terribly disappointed to pleasantly surprised and excited by the amount of interest in them. All of that interest means both players will command a bigger dollar than expected. … That said, there are a couple of executives who said they wouldn’t be surprised if a team asks to bump [five-year demands] up to seven years with the last two at lower salaries to lessen the cap hit. It’s also expected that Lecavalier will ask for no-move or no-trade protection.

This made me sad and confused, but that was obviously before all the reports about Lecavalier settling on the Flyers for five years at $22.5 million total with a no-movement clause and everyone started getting their jokes about goaltending in. Now I’ve been pushed even farther into my confusion.

Here’s what is fundamentally difficult to understand about deals like the ones Lecavalier apparently commanded, and what Briere will likely pull as well: how silly they are. Read the rest of this entry »

Anaheim Ducks v Colorado Avalanche

Viktor Fasth is a 30 year old first-year goalie for the Anaheim Ducks (technically not a “rookie” due to age), and he is off to a ridiculously good start. Here’s how the Ducks’ website describes what he’s done in the NHL so far:

Fasth, 30 (8/8/82), has appeared in nine contests for Anaheim this season, posting a perfect 8-0-0 record (one no decision) with a 1.78 goals-against average (GAA) and a .933 save percentage (SV%). The 6-0, 186-pound netminder is just the third goaltender in NHL history to win his first eight-or-more career decisions (also Ray Emery with Ottawa, an NHL record 9-0-0 from 2003-05 and Bob Froese with Philadelphia, 8-0-0 in Jan. 1983). Co-leading the NHL in wins, Fasth also ranks sixth in GAA and tied for seventh in SV%. He recorded his first career shutout at Colorado on Feb. 6, stopping all 31 shots he faced in a 3-0 decision. Signed as a free agent on May 21, 2012, Fasth made his NHL debut on Jan. 26, making 19 saves in a 3-2 shootout win over Nashville at Honda Center.

So uh, yeah. He’s off to a good start.

Because of that, the Ducks have extended him for two years, $5.8 million ($2.9M per), which is pretty amazing for a guy who has played so few NHL games. Almost as amazing as getting a team to negotiate a new deal for your client before he’s lost a game, let alone played a season. Stick-tap to dude’s agent.

More from the Ducks’ release:

“Viktor has proven himself not only this year in the NHL, but the previous two seasons as the top goaltender in Sweden,” said Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray. “We are pleased to be able to keep him and feel fortunate to have two top NHL goaltenders going forward.”

With Hiller under contract until 2014 for $4.5M per, and John Gibson (of the US World Junior team) waiting in the wings, it looks like the Ducks are, and will be, set in net for some time being.

…And I’m sorry, but I refuse to make a “That was Fasth” pun. REFUSE.

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