Thoughts On Recent Rash of Extensions
Despite the period known universally as "free agent frenzy," passing weeks ago, there was still some unfinished free agent business left. As training camps approached around the league several high-profile RFA's remained unsigned and dangerously close to "holding out." No one benefits from holding out. The player can damage his reputation among his peers, clubs are usually left without one (or more) of their better players, and fans are left bewildered at all parties. In a perfect world all RFA's would be signed ahead of camp. This week several of them did reach new accords while a couple still remain unsigned. Let's take a look.
Brad Marchand - To be honest, I don't get it. Why did it take all summer to get this one done? It had been suggested (not necessarily by the most reputable sources though) that Marchand's camp was looking for big money; maybe as much as $3.5 million or $4 million per. Even after a successful playoff run (11 goals in 25 games) did a regular season output of 41 points scream out, "I'm a $4 million-a-year player?" Not really.
Yes, that type of cash would have likely been part of a long-term deal structured to buy out UFA seasons and that carries value beyond a young players past production. Many teams gamble that these young players continue to improve to the point that $4 million is below market-value for that player. That would have made some sense.
So when details of his deal was announced I was surprised. Marchand signed a two-year deal with an average annual value of $2.5 million ($2 million in 2011-2012 and $3 million in 2012-2013). That seemed to be in line with what Boston was willing to pay... weeks earlier. So, why the wait? Did waiting until the last minute benefit either side? If it did I don't see it. Maybe someone can enlighten me.
That being said this is a good deal for the Bruins. Maybe Marchand never develops into anything more than the 20-goal guy he was last year but $2.5 million for that regular season production along with the grit and proven playoff performance is a bargain.
John Tavares - This is a huge move for the Islanders. For a club with doubt clouding their long-term future on Long Island to get a long-term commitment from a potential franchise player is terrific. Face it, Long Island is not a preferred destination for big-name free agents so it becomes imperative for the Islanders to keep their young stars in town. GM Garth Snow has done just that by extending Tavares among others this summer.
Maybe $5.5 million per for a guy who wasn't even going to be a RFA until next summer is a little steep. Still getting Tavares' signature on a six-year contract is well worth what might be a little bit of an overpayment.
I actually am predicting a breakout season of sorts for Tavares. Yes, he nearly potted 30 goals last year in just his second NHL season but I think he is very capable of 40 or more and this may well be the year he gets there. I see several all-star and 40 plus goal seasons in his future. Great move!
Luke Schenn - Schenn is a building block for Toronto and locking him up for the next five years has to be comforting for Leafs fans. Maybe they gave him a little more than they had to in the early portion of this deal but if he continues to develop into a top-pair defenseman then his deal will be viewed as a bargain in just a couple of years.
Zach Bogosian - Bogosian has yet to live up to his vast potential. He has the talent to be an elite defenseman but has been inconsistent so far in his young career. It's way too early to give up on the man selected third overall just a few years ago and who supposedly garnered heavy interest from clubs at last year's trade deadline. There's just too much talent.
By signing him to a two-year term this deal is designed to guard against committing too much to a player who may not turn into the Norris Trophy candidate type defenseman he can. The Jets aren't New York or Toronto and can't recover from poor allocation of resources. They need to be prudent with their expenditures. If Bogosian does develop into an all-star defenseman then he sets himself up for a big payday down the road. Although under the current CBA, Bogosian won't be an UFA once this contract expires so Winnipeg will still own his rights. That's probably another factor in giving him a two-year deal.
Tyler Myers - New owner Terry Pegula sure isn't reserved when it comes to shelling out his hard-earned dough. After landing Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff in free agency then trading for veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr, Pegula has shown he will do whatever it takes, or rather whatever GM Darcy Regier thinks it will take, to bring a championship to Buffalo. The most recent example was the extension of Tyler Myers.
Myers played like an elite defenseman as a 19/20 year-old rookie before suffering a bit of a sophomore slump last year. Still, franchise defenseman don't come available often so securing Myers' services for another seven seasons at a price a full $2 million less per year than what Shea Weber was awarded in arbitration looks like a good move.
Drew Doughty - Again, I'm not sure where the disconnect is here. Is Doughty looking for a shorter term so he can entertain UFA in a few years while the Kings want to buy up some UFA years? Is Doughty looking to approach the $7.5 million in annual salary Weber will make this year?
Somehow I think the Kings have probably made a fair offer. Whatever that may have been wasn't satisfactory enough for Doughty. This is a deal that must get done and done soon. The Kings have a chance to challenge for the Pacific Division crown this year but will need a happy and effective Doughty for that.