This summer has been an intriguing one in many ways in the NHL.
Small market teams in Minnesota and Carolina have thrown around a lot of money – and years – to get the players they feel will make them a Cup contender. Meanwhile, many “destination” teams haven’t been able to sign anyone.
How are the CBA negotiations impacting this summer’s spending… and where it’s coming from?
When the owners made their initial proposal to the players’ association in CBA talks, one of the items on their agenda was contract length limits. The owners proposed a five-year maximum on any contract under a new CBA.
Now step back and look at some of the deals handed out this summer.
Before this summer’s spending began, there were 13 contracts in the NHL that were at least 10 years in length. This summer, general managers have signed five deals of at least a full decade in length: Shea Weber, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Jordan Staal and Sidney Crosby (Staal and Crosby signed extensions that begin in 2013-14).
Add to those deals the likes of Jeff Skinner’s new six-year deal in Carolina, the seven-year contract the Ottawa Senators gave Erik Karlsson, and the six-year deal James vanRiemsdyk signed, and a five-year maximum appears to be something many GMs are betting on happening… and spending money now to avoid dealing with in the future.
If we look at cap hits, big-time money is being thrown around as well. Including the extension Nashville gave Pekka Rinne (a seven-year, $49M deal that begins this coming season), the one-year deal Carolina gave Alex Semin, as well as Crosby’s future extension, there have been seven deals handed out with a cap hit of more than $6.000M this summer; that total doesn’t include Jordan Staal’s $6.000M cap hit.
There are only 47 players in the NHL that currently have a cap hit of more than $6.000M. Seven of those 47 contracts were signed from this summer’s free agent class: Weber, Suter, Parise, Rinne, Karlsson, Semin ($7M for one year) and Mike Green with Washington ($6.083M for three years).
Out of those seven deals, four were signed by Nashville and Minnesota.
Carolina has signed two long-term extensions, Skinner and Jordan Staal, that are set to begin with the 2013-14 season.
With word out of New York that a team (outside the NY area) has offered Shane Doan a four-year deal with a $7M cap hit, that number could increase before the new season begins.
What’s interesting to watch now is how the major market teams react to not only the CBA negotiations, but also the big spending of smaller market teams.
So far this summer, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal and Toronto haven’t made much noise in free agency, while the New York Rangers have only consummated one blockbuster deal (the trade for Rick Nash). Indeed, the Original Six have accepted a back seat in this year’s free agent spending spree.
The Blackhawks have once again “successfully” avoided handing out long-term deals this summer, even though they reportedly offered a substantial deal to Parise. With extensions given to Johnny Oduya and Daniel Carcillo, the Hawks have some flexibility in upcoming summers.
Of course, that flexibility comes with the caveat that the organization will need to make a decision on the futures of players including Dave Bolland, Marcus Kruger, Nick Leddy and Niklas Hjalmarsson at some point in the next couple years.
It will be interesting to watch how GMs around the NHL handle players with one year remaining on their existing contracts as the two sides continue negotiating a new CBA. If a five-year contract maximum is going to be a piece of the deal, there could be some surprising movement before the new CBA is signed.