Monday, May 17, 2010

"Are Young Guys Worth the Big Deal??" or "Bargain or Bust"

CBC's Hockey Night in Canada's internet king Jeff Marek bought up an interesting point about contracts on his Twitter account. He mentioned the fact that you don't see a second contract anymore, as it just goes from an Entry-Level Deal to big money, long-term contract. Marek said this in response to Nicklas Backstrom signing a ten-year, $67M deal with the Washington Capitals on Monday.

While I brought up the case of Mike Green, who didn't sign a long-term deal with his team; Marek's point is a curious one. While Green will be a restricted free-agent at the end of his term, Marek pointed out how the money for these guys escalate after one deal-- which is a tad presumptuous for most of the guys signing these deals. The likes of Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin can be explained because they are elite players at different levels, but when you look up and down the line; the likes of Mike Richards, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews getting the big money after having a so-so start to their career makes you cock your head and wonder if it's for the best.

Sure, each of the ones I named do have a lot of talent and are good for their team and market to associate the face with the team; but to get them a very long-term deal and for that amount of money may seem like a guessing game. While they do have the skill-set in order to succeed, is that skill-set enough to warrant the money and length of deal they are getting from these teams. It almost seems like a panic move on behalf of the General Managers to make sure they don't have a young star make a bold move and hold-out for a bigger or longer deal because they don't want to missed a minute of this kid being on the ice because if he does, then you give him the big deal and he falters; the GM has egg on his face for the deal.

One has to wonder how much offer sheets have to do with this, as well. In an age where there's a possible threat of a rival team snagging your young prospect; maybe GMs have a moment of panic to get these guys signed, which gives the player and his agent the upper hand in demands. Granted, the team will get compensated for the other team poaching the player-- but usually the return does not equal that of what is being given up. Yet, there are times were it breaks even, like in the case of Dustin Penner where nothing lost, nothing gained.

You have to put into the equation of a guy being a one-hit wonder. While the likes of Steven Stamkos, Tyler Myers, and Matt Duchene are going to get their money for their entry level performance; what kind of risk are you taking when you deal with a young player like that who may or may not be able to repeat a performance like that year-in and year-out. One good contract or one good year does not a career make. If a GM puts all his eggs into the basket of a supposed wunderkind who turns out to be a dud, it puts the team in a tight bind to get rid of the contract and start anew.

The interesting thing about this is that people talk about this more often than not now than we have in years past. Is this due to the great talent coming up through the ranks and all or does it have something completely different to do with it. How much is it is talent and how much of it is panic?? Or are the guys coming up being rushed a little too much in certain cases, which makes others look better by comparison, thus skewing the numbers?? The gauge is definitely on a case-by-case basis when it comes to the player and the management and how they see the competition when it comes to going against their team. This is yet another odd thing you can throw into how you value a player.

When you're dealing with a cap-era of sport, you have to be careful and how and where you spend your money. One small miscalculation could cost a team more than just money on other players. It could cost championships, wins, and so on. Plus, if you have too many big name young players getting a lot of money on the same team, you run into have to put yourself at a disadvantage in bargaining a deal because you're in a tight crunch and will do more harm than good to the franchise in the long run. It's a tight-rope walk with too many variables for me to be jealous of some GMs in their position.

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