May 222006
 

Am I reading this right? Did Brad Richards really sign a 5 year contract that will pay him $7.8 million per year? Is the Tampa Bay management insane? It appears the answer to all of those questions is yes. How sad for Tampa Bay Lightning fans.

Here is the problem. Richards will make $7.8 million a season. Martin St. Louis will make 5.25 million a season. And Vincent Lecavalier will make 6.875 million per season. Combined those 3 guys will make nearly $20 million dollars, or just over half of this past seasons salary cap. Maybe we should read this as a sign that the salary cap will go up dramatically for next season but even if it goes up to $45 million, is Tampa really going to spend to the cap level? How much talent are they going to be able to afford for the other 17-20 players on their roster? Boyle, Sydor, Prospal, Modin and Burke are also signed for next season for a bit over 11 million combined. That’ll be $31 million for 8 players. That’s rediculous. Now don’t get me wrong. Richards is a pretty good player. The best player on that team. But he isn’t a $7.8 million player. Nor is Lecavalier a $6.875 million player (he has never even had an 80 point season). How they are going to fill out that defense and add a quality goalie for no more than $10 million is well beyond me. One has to wonder if maybe St. Louis or Lecavalier mighe get traded but I am not sure who would want to take on those contracts. Maybe San Jose would be willing to rid themselves on Nabokov’s $5.375 million per season contract for St. Louis’s $5.25 million per season contract (that’s a trade that might make sense for both teams). Maybe Montreal would be willing to take on Lecavalier’s contract but not sure what they would be willing to give up in return. And honestly, I have a hard time seeing the Lightning trading Levavalier. They seem to have always held him in higher regard than he probably deserves. I’ll predict now that Tampa won’t be a serious cup contender again for the next 3-5 years.

  9 Responses to “Am I reading this right?”

  1.  

    What you read today was a press release by the Lightning about their future intentions to trade St. Louis.

  2.  

    Agreed. Tampa wont be a contender for another 5-10 years if they keep all 3 players. It isnt the CBA that’s the problem. No matter what system you use, owners and GMs will still be fools.

    Perhaps TB will trade one of St. Louis or LeCavallier? As you said, St. Louis to SJ?

    Or maybe LeCavallier to Montreal for a package including Huet?

  3.  

    Huet is an unrestricted free agent so he would offer no trade value unless Montreal signed him.

    The problem with St. Louis to SJ is SJ really needs defensemen, not a scoring forward. Maybe St. Louis to Chicago for Khabibulin would work but Khabibulin makes more than St. Louis so it wouldn’t really address Tampa’s budget problems.

  4.  

    The criticism of the signing might be fair in the very short term – this year or next. But the CBA’s built-in escalator clauses are about to take elite-player salaries on a wild ride.

    If league revenues climb at a 7% annual pace, by 2010-11 the individual player cap will be up 50% to $11.7 million.

    So Richards would cost just 66% of the individual cap –- the equivalent of signing him for $5 million in today’s market.

    We’ve got a set of tables up on this at SportsMatter (http://sportsmatter.blogspot.com/). If you buy into the revenue projection, it shows that in 2005-06, Trinity of Richards/St. Louis/Lecavalier cost the team about 41% of the salary cap. The figure will rise to 48% next year and be back to 41% by the 2008-09 season.

    After than, it just gets silly: in the last two years of the CBA, the Bolts will use just 37% and 35% of the cap to pay three players who are collectively worth close to 60%.

    Not only have they locked-in three proven performers, Tampa has ensured that from 2008-11 they’ll have ample resources to sign free agents and make a run at the Cup.

  5.  

    That doesn’t make it a smart move, just maybe not as dumb or as financially crippling long term. Richards needed to be signed in this market place, not a market place 5 years from now. Tampa made this move gambling that:

    a) The salary cap, and thus the players cap, would rise this summer and that some team will offer Richards a contract in excess of $7.8 million.

    or

    b) The market for Richards caliber players rises beyond $7.8 million this summer.

    The salary cap is certainly going to happen, but we just don’t know how much. A 15% increase is probably about the max it would rise. But would someone be willing to bid more than $7.8 million for him? I have my doubts. First, it would cost another team 5 first round draft picks and we know from the last CBA how reluctant teams have been to do that. a) is not going to happen.

    So, that leaves b). Will the market for Richards caliber players rise beyond $7.8 million this summer, or even in the next couple years? Possibly, but I doubt it. In 2003-04 only 18 players made more than $7.8 million. And that was in an uncapped world where only 5 or 6 teams paid players that much (and again, not when signing restricted free agents from other teams).

    So, in my mind the worst case scenario is that the going rate for Richards is $7.8 million 3 months from now and quite likely it will be somewhat lower.

    So, is it a smart move? No.

    You also need to remember that it is unlikely that Tampa will spend near the league team salary cap. So, even if the league salary cap goes to $58 million, the Tampa Lightning self-imposed budget might still be in the $40-45 million range and those three players are still going to take up 40-50% of the teams budget.

  6.  

    I think you’re right. I believe they signed the three to use one for trade bait. I don’t see any other reasoning for committing so much money for 3 players.

    TB needs a goalie, and SJ has one too many. Also, Lecavalier has always been rumoured to go to Montreal one day in the future.

    We both know that if TB does not make a move in the offseason that during the season when they are near the bottom of the conference that they will trade one of the three.

    Here’s hoping that there is some reasoning to their madness.

  7.  

    I’d love to see Vinny come to Montreal for Aebischer and change (Ribeiro, Zednik, Souray, etc…), but I don’t expect it to happen. They really do have to trade one of them, unless if they have some magoc rookies coming in cheap.

  8.  

    David I have a question for you. Have you been making playoff picks and if not why? I followed your picks all year and wish you were capping playoffs!!A great hockey mind is what you have. Give me some picks!!!

  9.  

    I have been kind of busy and was on vacation for a week and a half or so so haven’t been getting around to making daily picks. Besides, it is difficult to predict who will win any particular game in the playoffs. Predicting the series winner is difficult enough. But here are some of my thoughts.

    Edmonton/Anaheim

    I think Anaheim wins game 5 at home as Edmonton will still have a bit too much confidence. Game 6 will go Edmonton’s way as Edmonton will once again have pressure on them to win because they definitely do not want to go back to Anaheim for game 7.

    Carolina/Buffalo

    I said before the series that this was extremely difficult to predict. And after 3 games I am still undecided. I think after what happened in the first 3 games I would have to give the edge to Buffalo but with their injuries on defense the door might be open for Carolina to take the series. But, ultimately I am not confident enough in Carolina’s defense to handle Buffalo’s speedy forwards and more importantly in Ward/Gerber to provide the goaltending required (I think Miller has the advantage in goal). For that reason I think Buffalo takes the series though they might lose tonights game being short on defensemen.

    Barring injuries, I like Buffalo to win the Stanley Cup but certainly if Roloson continues playing like he has the Oilers have an excellent shot at it too. For those who have been reading my thoughts for a while now I believe that goaltending is the number 1 factor in winning or losing in the playoffs.

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