The Columbus Blue Jackets announced a six-year, $27M contract extension with defenseman Fedor Tyutin on Wednesday morning.
If the goal in Columbus was to spend money, that’s been accomplished. But nobody’s forced them to spend their money wisely, and it shows.
Between Tyutin and James Wisnewski, the Blue Jackets have locked up $10M against the cap for the five seasons following the coming campaign; Tyutin has one more season left on his current deal.
Let’s put that number into some perspective against some of the best, and most expensive, defensive pairs in the NHL:
Chicago: Keith-Seabrook – $11.34M
Florida: Campbell-Jovanovski – $11.26M
Nashville: Weber-Suter – $11.00M
San Jose: Burns-Boyle – $10.22M
Boston: Chara-Seidenberg – $10.18M
Columbus: Wisniewski-Tyutin – $10.00M
Detroit: Lidstrom-Stuart – $9.95M
Buffalo: Regehr-Ehrhoff – $8.02M
Take a step back and consider what surrounds the Columbus pair on that list. Lidstrom is a Hall of Famer with (another) Norris Trophy at home. Chara just won the Stanley Cup in Boston. Keith and Seabrook have a couple gold medals to go with their Cup rings from 2010. Weber and Suter both have Olympic medals at home as well.
What do Wisniewski and Tyutin have on their resumes?
Last year, in different cities, they combined to post 17 goals and 61 assists while accumulating a minus-26 rating. Those 78 points are a solid number for a pair of defensemen, but consider that total next to Keith-Seabrook (93), Weber-Suter (87), Chara-Seidenberg (76) and Boyle-Burns (96). The only number close is the champions from Boston, but they were a combined plus-36 last year – 62 points better than Wisniewski and Tyutin.
Wisniewski had a great season a year ago, posting 51 points. And Tyutin’s a solid defenseman as well (in spite of the cross check clearly caught in the photo). But neither is going to be an All-Star any time soon despite their salaries indicating they should have plans to the mid-season event an an annual basis.
This illustrates the greatest flaw in any salary cap system. The NHL’s system – with a hard cap and a floor – is arguably the most honest of the four major professional sports in North America, forcing every team to have their payroll within parameters that encourage parity. But there isn’t a collective bargaining agreement in the history of professional sports that forces general managers to use common sense when paying athletes.
The Jackets are saddled with a couple expensive contracts for players that, while good, aren’t worth the money they’re making. Truly, the simple reality is that you can force a GM to spend, but can’t force him to do it wisely.