For many years there has been an unwritten belief among the GM’s of the league. This belief is that players who have played a large role, or who have been extremely productive must be resigned. Even though most of them are close to, or over 30.
These players are all looking at the UFA contract as their one chance to sign a huge deal either with their club or as a free agent. But are the teams correct to sign them?
In some cases, it makes perfect sense. When players are hitting UFA status at 27 such as Steven Stamkos last year or John Tavares this year you sign them and breathe a sigh of relief that you got them.
In many cases it does not make as much sense as teams like Chicago, New York Rangers, and potentially the Canadiens are finding out.
The Worst Contracts
Chicago is in the worst shape. Giving Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews matching $10.5 million a year deals wasn’t terrible but signing a 30 year old Brent Seabrook to 8 years at $6 million cap hit was. Seabrook, in year two of the deal, has fallen off the top pairing and has been replaced there by the $1 million dollar per year Cody Franson. The worst part of the contract is, cap avoiding salaries that nosedive at the end and become tradeable to teams trying to reach the cap floor are no longer around. Seabrook will still be making $4.5 million in his final years. Not a lot of saving incentive for cash strapped teams to take that on.
The New York Rangers are in a similiar position. They locked up Henrik Lundquist to a massive 8 year deal with an average cap hit of 8.5 million dollars. The contract also includes a full no move clause to guarantee that, barring a buy out, they will have him on the team for three more years after this season. And even if he did decide to waive his NMC, his play this season and last has made him untradeable.
While the Rangers did manage to get a Stanley Cup final out of the Lundquist contract, they have also had to part ways with two goalies who could have replaced Lundquist for a fraction of his salary in Cam Talbot and Antti Rannta.
There are so many more contracts like these that handicap teams from continuing their success. Until GM’s learn that players nearing 30 are a diminishing asset and are prepared to walk away from players or, trade them at the deadline, teams will keep being burdened with them.