Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Quick, and the mega deal
With the recent huge contracts signed by Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Quick, some pundits have started to speculate. They wonder whether or not this is good for any player, even if that player helped his team to a Stanley Cup and has a room full of hardware.
Most fans would like to think that their favorite team's coach, general manager, and owner are thinking long term and looking for consistency throughout the organization.
On the surface, these contracts show a couple of things. First and most obviously, it shows the club is looking to lock up one of their most valuable assets.
Secondly, it shows the player is committed to staying with the organization and become one of the building blocks for a competitive team. What this contract will also do, will make that club attractive to other players looking for a new home.
Players would kill for the chance to play along side Steven Stamoks, Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, or John Tavares. Young superstars being a long-term piece of a team will certainly sweeten the pot a little more to free agents.
But, after scratching the surface and uncovering the obvious let’s take a look at a couple of other things that some fans scratch their head about.
Don’t be confused, the people who disagree with the double-digit year and multi-million dollar contracts are also looking into the future. However, they seem to be a little more hesitant with giving out long term contract extensions for a couple of reasons:
Although the player being signed is most likely an elite player in the NHL and their trade value will be high, the huge contract attached to them makes it hard for teams to acquire such a player and to move said player.
For example, not only is Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson asking the world for Rick Nash in trade talks with some clubs, some teams aren’t interested due to the contract that comes with him.
Most teams can't afford Nash without a dump of players, which seems to be a quick fix as apposed to thinking long term.
Next, with smaller contracts of four to six years, the player can still feel like a vital part of the organization. The good thing for the fans and the team is that that player, if his production drops off, is easier to move without a bunch of dollar signs and double-digit years remaining on a contract.
It keeps the player on his toes and if he wants to stay there he will continue to work hard to make sure that’s the case. Contract years are always talked about with players that are teetering on the brink of either not being resigned or the possibility of trade to at least getting something in return.
Fans would hate it if all of a sudden a player’s point totals sky rocket during a contract year, he gets re-signed, then he’s back to playing mediocre hockey.
Either way, it gives the player an incentive to stay as long as the dollar amount can be agreed upon between the player and the team. The smaller contracts are a good balance between future and present allowing organizations to re-evaluate their situation every few years and make sure the pieces they put together four years ago are still in the plans for the next four years.
The last risk of a long contract is injury risk. How many seasons go down the drain due to a star player going down early in the campaign? Or, if he comes back, never being the same? In the worst-case scenari, a player is forced to retire.
The infamous signing in the post lock-out NHL which should be an example for all long term contracts is the 15-year deal given to Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders.
DiPietro was coming off of a 30-win season and a spot on the Team USA roster. He continued to do well the following two years. He played a little more than 60 games, winning 32 and 26 respectively.
These aren't the best numbers, but hey, at least he’s playing. Maybe the defensive corps could've use an upgrade to help him?
As many Islanders fans know, DiPietro was injured during the All-Star game in 2007 and since then amassed only 37 games from 2008-2009 through 2011-2012. This is an extreme case but there are others that seemed to be overlooked.
Most recently was the injured Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils during the latter half of their playoff run. Granted, Kovalchuk has never made it that far in the playoffs, an elite player should be prepared for the rigors of tough playoff hockey.
His giant 15-year. $100 million contact also means he should be noticeable during the Stanley Cup final, right? What we saw was his injury causing him to be a non-threat during the Los Angeles Kings’ near sweep of the Devils and their eventual raising of hockey’s holy grail.
Injuries do happen and this isn’t a knock on a player's ability to fight off being hurt rather, it’s a look at a precautionary measure teams should take in signing a player for the long term.
The odds of them staying healthy for the entire length is a long shot, but that’s part of being one of the elite players in the league. It's one reason Wayne Gretzky was able to do what he did and why Mario Lemieux will always be second to the Great One.
While taking a look at Ryan Miller’s signing of a five-year contract extension that started during the 2009-2010 season it seems likes a solid contract.
It gives Miller and the Sabres some confidence that they will be with each other for a few years. It also doesn't break the bank or give the organization a scare if he was to get injured.
If the player likes the team, and vice-versa, the relationship will be seen in continued extensions and the incentive for the player to remain playing at a high level is put into place.
What are your thoughts? Do some players warrant such large contracts?