The Big Contract Head Scratcher

Throughout writing for this site during this lockout, I have unabashedly been pro-owner and pro-league. In doing the research for my fan submitted proposal, there were a lot of details where I could easily point out flaws in the NHLPA’s line of thinking. Revenues are not profits, travel costs were skyrocketing, and even revenue sharing were all issues where I stated that the players association were wrong.

This being said, I have given the contracting demands of the NHL a thorough review and I have come to the conclusion that…

The NHL is on crack.
Simply put, the abuse of the last agreed upon CBA was league wide. Yes, there were GMs in the league that had internal standards for what contracts their teams would give out. The Brian Burkes and Doug Wilsons of the league were rare commodities in an otherwise insane group of GMs. No, I didn’t have a problem with Craig Leipold and Chuck Fletcher giving Ryan Suter and Zach Parise matching $98,000,000, 13 year deals. He was operating under the rules and wants, more than anything else, to win.

Frankly, I like that the team I root for was willing to put boot to ass and land the two biggest free agents to have hit the market in years. Not just one, both. Both of these players will be assets to the organization for those years, with Parise maybe trailing off to a third line role in years 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13. Sure, we will moan and complain about it then, but oh well. They both make our team better.

The goal of the NHLs proposed contracting changes is to get the reins back on the out of control GMs. Remember, for as much as the rest of the teams fans want to kvetch about Parise/Suter, there are worse contracts out there than this tandem. The clown show of Chris Pronger’s contract with Philadelphia comes to the forefront of my mind, ignoring Bryzgalov as the #1 “WTF contract” that Snider/Holmgren put out there.

I really disagree with the NHL on this one and agree with the players. 

Let us hypothetically pose a couple of scenarios to show how ridiculous the following demands are;

1.       Entry Level Contracts drop from 3 to 2 years.
2.       Contract Max Length of 5 Years.
3.       Free Agent eligibility goes up from 27 to 28.

If you run the numbers, this pushes the standard player’s big payoff UFA contract out to his 4th deal, instead of his current 3rd. 

Scenario #1: 18 year old kid (forward) is put into the league right away after he signs his first 2 year ELC. At the ripe old age of 20, this superstar signs a maximum 5 year deal which then takes him to 25. At which point he is (under this proposal) still a restricted free agent and completely under the club control. Yet, good blood still exists between this kid, who has been lighting the league up for 7 years, and his team so he signs another max duration 5 year contract. At the end of this contract, his best years are behind him at 30, the club is now completely behind another kid, and this 30 year old is looking for scrub work, for anything and any role on any team. Because the production of elite forwards tends to taper off after 30, every GM in the league knows that his best days are behind him.
Scenario #2: During the draft, a future defensive stud is drafted at #10 and is 17. He is committed to playing at Boston College, where his team lets him ripen for three years, before promoting him to the pros. As a 20 year old, he is now on his first entry level, two year deal. He spends the full two seasons in the AHL, making as little as $65k . Because he spent the full two years of his ELC in the A, he inks another contract, max term, to play with the big club. This takes him to age 27, where he is still under the control of the club that drafted him and he signs another 5 year, max term, contract, which takes him to age 32.

I could go through plenty of other scenarios, but I can honestly not think of a single possible scenario of a player hitting free agency as a 28 year old on the fourth contract. 
Simple math: 2 (ELC) + 5 (2nd) + 5 (3rd) is 12 years of potential years under which the players earning potential is limited. 
There is a scenario where a “bottom tier” player makes it to free agency at 29 on only his “third” contract. In this case, a player is drafted in the later rounds at 18, spends all four years at an NCAA school, starts his ELC at age 22, which puts the conclusion of his first 5 year deal at age 29 and it would literally be his third contract.
Of course, these are all scenarios which leverage the max 5 year contract term currently being proposed. Teams will not give all players in the mix a full five year contract. The point of this exploration is that this greatly affects the “star” players a lot more than the mid- bottom-tiered guys.
In summary, the conclusion that I arrive to regarding these contracting proposals by the NHL amount to a complete crippling of the earning potential for the upper tiered players.
If I were a player in the NHL, regardless of where I would fall in the “grading” of a player, I would be adamantly against these proposed contracting changes. In fact, I would label them as such ridiculous concessions being asked by the league, where I would walk out of the meeting after 10 minutes if these were still on the table as a “take it or leave it” scenario.
What the hell is the league thinking here? 
I completely disagree with these proposed changes.

1 comment:

  1. Hello athletes, welcome back to the real world job market.