Signings: July 26th, 2010

The Vancouver Canucks announced today that they have resigned 6′ 0” 185-pound winger Mason Raymond to a two year 5.1million dollar contract. Raymond appeared in 82 Canuck games last year setting career highs in Goals (25)  and Assists (28) bringing his career totals to Goals (45), Assists(52) and  -/(+3) in 203 NHL games. Raymond was drafted in the 2nd round (51st overall) by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2005 NHL entry draft.

  • Puckking: A very reasonable price (and a steal if he can hit 30) but the Canucks are already up against the cap.

The Nashville Predators announced today that they have resigned 6′ 3” 198-pound defenseman Ryan Parent to a two year 1.8million dollar contract. Parent appeared in 48 NHL games last year posting Goals (1)  and Assists (2) . Parent was drafted in the 1st round (18th overall) by the Nashville Predators in the 2005 NHL entry draft and was reacquired by the the Predators this past summer for the rights to sign UFA Dan Hamhuis.

Under Review: Contracts

This is the first “Under Review:” post (hopefully the get better over time) I’m going to be talking about contract (I bet you can guess what inspired this post.) Here are a few thoughts I’ve had on them and maybe a few ideas that will spark some debate (or resonate with you.)

Should the NHL put a “cap” on the number of years you can offer on long term deals?

When you look at a contract (usually there are a few years on it) that is front loaded, and fair, you can understand why teams and players do it. From the players stand point you make the big bucks up front, which everyone wants, and if you walk away at the end your not leaving (in the overall picture) that much money on the table. From the owners point you create a situation where you can create a manageable cap hit and flexibility (usually for an above average player, or expensive player) and you can build a team around that elite player(s) in a cap age.

But when you mix a front loaded contract with long term deals you can create a recipe for disaster (ex. See Kovalchuk.)

The Devils had a deal in place that would have 11.5million for 5years, but ended with them paying him 3.5million in the last 6years (allegedly done to circumvent the cap.)

While the jury is still out on that, and people on both sides of the fence, in my opinion something needs to be put in stone in the next CBA on contracts, and perhaps that is to put a limit on the number of years you can offer a player.

Maybe the simplest and most efficient way is just to say that you can offer any player a deal up to their 39th birthday.

(ex. A 26year old can sign up to a 13year deal)

No Contracts extending past a players 39th birthday

I’m not going to throw every player who signs a long deal under the bus (a lot of deals appear to be reasonably done) but over the past few seasons a group of players have signed questionable contracts extending past their 39th birthday. My list of questionable offenders include Marian Hossa, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Chris Pronger, Roberto Luongo and potentially Ilay Kovalchuk.

There may only be a handful of contracts done in this fashion (right now), as we have seen with the Kovalchuk contract the CBA can be exploited and “if it can be done it will be done”.

So why sign a player to a long term contract?:

Players, generally, are signed to long term deals to keep a reasonable cap hit. Remember these are your elite players who are looking for excess of 50 or 60 million dollars (the big money guys.) If you signed that 30 year old 50million dollar player to a 7year deal your looking at a Cap hit of over 7million a season without front loading (which I will explain in a second). But if you extended that contract another 4years your only looking at a cap hit of 4.5million a season

So now that you only have to pay player X 4.5million a season, instead of the 7million a season you would have to pay if you signed him to a deal just 4years shorter, you can begin to front load and make changes to the amount player X will make each year he will likely play while keeping a manageable cap hit for the team.

But if these players (my list of questionable offenders) don’t play to the end of their contracts (for other reasons then career ending injuries) then the teams who signed them have effectively just circumvented the CBA, regardless if the player left 2.5million on the table (because if you just made 50million over the last 7years do you really want to stick around for another 4years to make 2.5?)

I’m not saying I’ am 100% that these players will retire before their contracts run out (we’ve seen players play into their 40’s) but you have to admit the odds they retire before their contract expires is greater then the odds the play it out.

So what I am suggesting is would it be in the interest of the NHL to institute a new rule in the next CBA saying that no player can be signed to a contract that extends past that players 39th birthday in that given year?

Now you may be wondering why 39?

While you can’t predict when a player will retire you can count the number of players who will be 39 or older next season on both hands. To offer contracts that go past a players 39th birthday (while possible for players to go that long) is improbable.

Maybe 39 is a high number still, maybe 35 is something that will make players think twice about long term deals (who wants to make peanuts when they still have years left to play) but the principle is the same.

(Just to make things clear I’m not saying everyone has to retire at 35, just they have to sign a new deal at 35 or 39 and maybe you even cap that two a maximum 2year deal or 3year deal.)

Max you must pay each year

Or what if you put a floor on the minimum a player can make each year when they sign their new contract. You couldn’t make it too high because of unexpected injuries that might occur and end a career (people still need to get paid) but maybe a 15% floor.

This might be the first one to be thrown out by the NHLPA, but maybe it deserves some consideration because something needs to be done. Whether the NHL is considering any of these possibilities (most likely not, they got a bunch of people smarter then I am) or some other options the one thing everyone agrees on is that this will be one of (if not, “the”) major issues when the league and players go to renew their contracts.

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Signings: July 23rd, 2010

The Dallas announced today that they have resigned 6′ 2” 212-pound winger Fabian Brunnstrom to a one year 826k dollar contract. Fabian appeared in 44 Stars games last year scoring Goals (2) and Assists (9) bringing his career totals to Goals (19), Assists(21) and  +/(-1) in 99 NHL games. Brunnstrom signed as a free agent with the Stars May 8th, 2008.

“We are looking forward to having him come to training camp in September and battle for a spot on our roster”

-Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk

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Snap Shots: July 23, 2010

The Anaheim Ducks are doing more than kicking the tires on Kevin Bieksa. They’re checking the sticker price…. The San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens are wondering the same thing about Bieksa.

The Province

  • Puckking: I would imagine prospects (forwards most likely) and a pick, or the Canucks may try to package Bieska with someone/something else (maybe Alex Burrows?) for a young top 6 guy. It’s better to have multiple teams interested then only one.

According to reports out of Finland, Vancouver Canucks defenceman Sami Salo tore an Achilles tendon playing floor hockey and will be out at least three months.

Edmonton Journal

  • Puckking: If this is true you have to imagine the Canucks are at their wits-end with Salo.

Bob Raissman reports in today’s print edition of the Daily News that Islanders color commentator Billy Jaffe will not have his contract renewed.

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Trade: Chicago/Panthers

The Chicago Blackhawks have traded 6′ 1” 205-pound center Marty Reasoner to the Florida Panthers in exchange for 6′ 3” 207-pound winger Jeff Taffe.

Marty Reasoner (to Florida):

Drafted in the 1st round (14th overall) by the St. Louis in the 1996 NHL entry draft Reasoner has played for four NHL Clubs (Blues, Oilers, Bruins, Thrashers.) Reasoner played in 80 NHL games last year with the Thrashers Goals (4), Assists (13) +/(-3) bringing his career totals to Goals (82), Assists (141), +/(-8) in 624 NHL games.

“He is a hard working, veteran center who is good on face-offs and can be counted upon to play in all game situations. We look forward to his contributions to our club.”

-Florida Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon

Jeff Taffe (to Chicago): Drafted in the 1st round (30th overall) by St. Louis in the 2000 NHL entry level draft Taffe has played for four different NHL Clubs (Coyotes, Penguins, Rangers, Panthers.) He laced up for 21 NHL games with the Panthers last season  Goals (1), Assists (1) and a +/(-1) bringing his career stats to Goals (21), Assists (23) and +/(-22) in 174 NHL games.

  • Puckking: Salary cap dump for the Hawks, and a bottom tier guy for the Panthers.

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Signings: July 22nd, 2010

The Atlanta Thrashers announced today that they have resigned 6′ 3” 220-pound goaltender Ondrej Pavelec to a two year 2.3million dollar contract. Pavelec started in a career high 42 games for the Thrashers last season posting a Save% (.906) and a GAA (3.29). Pavelec was a second round pick (43rd overall) by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2005 NHL entry draft.

“This corresponds to my performance. I’m quite happy it turned out according to my expectations,”

-Ondrej Pavelec

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced today that they have resigned 5′ 11” 208-pound defenseman Grant Clitsome to a one year contract. Clitsome played in 11 NHL games last season with Goals (1), Assists (2) and +/- (0). Clitsome was drafted in the 9th round (271st overall) by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2004 NHL entry draft.

The Canucks Jannik Hansen finished up arbitration today and was awarded a raise of $825k one year deal. Hansen had a career high in Goals (9), Assists (6) and a +/(-5) last season bringing his career totals to Goals (15), Assists (21) and +/- (0).  Hansen was a 9th round pick (287th overall) in the 2004 NHL entry draft.

“It’s not a surprising result to us. It puts Jannik in a position to come back to our team next year and to continue to demonstrate that he is a bonafide NHL player with a long-term future.”

-Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman

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Snap Shots: July 22, 2010

Alan Walsh , who represents about 40 players though the Los Angeles-based Octagon sports agency, told the Denver Post the market will open up after Kovalchuk is officially locked up.

  • Puckking: I don’t think we will see the flood doors open as soon as Kovalchuk gets resigned but the few teams interested will have to get their “plan B” ready. As more players head to arbitration and teams find out how much they have left to spend we will see the next tier of players finding a home.
The New York Islanders have shot down a rumour that goaltender Rick DiPietro suffered a broken shoulder and pelvis in a car accident, stating that the report was a complete fabrication.
  • Puckking: At this point would anyone be surprised…(or care?)
The Blue Jackets and the agent for defenseman Anton Stralman will likely re-engage contract talks later this week, but there are no indications that a deal will be reached before Wednesday’s arbitration hearing.

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