Oct 012013
 

It appears that Phil Kessel’s is on the verge of signing an 8 year, $8M/yr contract with the Leafs so this is a good time to compare this contract to a couple other elite wingers who have signed contracts in the past year or so. Corey Perry and Zach Parise. I have also chosen to include Rick Nash in the discussion because he is a comparable goal scoring winger with a comparable salary even though he signed his contract several years ago. Before we get into contracts though, let’s take a look at production levels by age.

KesselGoalsPerGameByAge

 

In terms of goal production, both Nash and Kessel got their careers started earlier than Perry or Parise and both had their best goal production years earlier int heir careers. Kessel of course had his best goal production year playing a significant amount of time with one of the best playmakers in the league at the time, Marc Savard. He has yet to match that level in Toronto but of course he is playing with Tyler Bozak in Toronto. Aside from Perry’s career year at age 25 he has generally been at or below the production level of the other three at the same age while Nash has generally been the more productive player. Note that I have removed Parise’s Age 25 season as he missed the majority of the year to injury. Nash’s age 20 season was lost due to a lockout. Ages are based on draft year (first season after draft year is age 18)

 

KesselPointsPerGameByAge

Not really a lot different in the points/game chart which kind of makes sense because all these players are wingers and more goal scorers than play makers. Parise once again had his peak season at age 23 while Perry again had his at age 25. Nash has maintained a little more consistency fluctuating between 0.8 and 1.0 since his age 21 season though one should remember that Nash’s age 21 season was 2005-06 when goal production was inflated due to obstruction crackdown and far more power plays. Kessel appears to still be on the upswing and he has shown more play making ability with Lupul or van Riemsdyk on the other wing and the absence of a play maker at center.

Age Length Total$
Parise* 27 8 $80M
Perry 27 8 $69M
Kessel 25 8 $64M
Nash 25 8 $62.4M

*Parise’s salary over the first 8 years of his contract.

Parise’s salary is a little wonky as he signed his contract under the old CBA which was a back diving contract in which he earns $94M over the first 10 years and $4M over the final 3. Perry is the easiest to compare with as he is the most recent contract signing while Nash signed several years ago when the salary cap was lower. All things considered Kessel’s contract is at least fairly priced if not a slight bargain.

In conclusion, even though the others may have had higher ‘peak’ seasons (though it is certainly possible, maybe likely, that Kessel hasn’t reached his peak) it is fair to suggest that Kessel is deserving to be considered similarly talented to the other three which makes his $8M/yr salary not only fair but maybe a slight bargain.

 

Oct 212008
 

The Minnesota Wild have been rumoured to have offered Marian Gaborik upwards of $8 million per season on a long term contract but so far Gaborik has refused to accept any of Minnesota’s offers.  It seems almost certain that Gaborik’s days in Minnesota are drawing to a close.  Unless Gaborik changes his mind he will almost certainly be traded before the trade deadline and maybe even much sooner than that.

There are really two types of teams that would be interested in Gaborik.  The contenders and the rebuilders.  The contenders are top level teams looking to bring in Gaborik primarilly for a Stanley Cup run.  The rebuilders would look at Gaborik only if they could get him to sign a long term contract and become a key component of their rebuilding team.  So, lets take a look at who might be interested in Gaborik and what they might need to offer in return.

The Montreal Canadiens have 13 regulars set to be free agents next summer, many of them of the unrestricted variety.  Because of this Montreal is likely to make all the moves they can to make a serious push for the Stanley Cup this year as this might just be the Canadiens best hope for another Stanley Cup over the next couple years.  If Montreal wants to get serious about acquiring Gaborik the starting price will almost certainly be someone like Chris Higgins and a first round pick.

The Ottawa Senators are desperately looking for another top 6 forward and would probably have an interest in Gaborik but his price tag is probably too high both in terms of what the Wild would want in return and in fitting Gaborik’s salary under the cap.

Other contending teams that might be interested are the Flyers and Rangers but both have salary cap issues that would need to be dealt with first.  It is less likely that the Wild will trade with a western conference contender but if they are open to that I wouldn’t be surprised if Dallas was interested (again, if they can resolve salary cap issues) and Brian Burke in Anaheim has never shied away from making bold moves in an attempt to improve his team, which is struggling mightily right now.

There have been rumours that the Los Angeles Kings might have an interest in Gaborik.  Of course, this would only happen if they can get Gaborik to sign a long term contract.  Should they make the trade it is likely that Frolov or Dustin Brown would be going the other way along with a top prospect or a first round draft pick.

The Vancouver Canucks need offense badly, especially if they don’t think they can re-sign the Sedin twins, and might have an interest in Gaborik and reuniting him with his good friend Pavol Demitra.  The Canucks don’t have as many quality forwards to offer the Wild as either Montreal or Los Angeles but they do have some quality defensemen that might help get the deal done.  Kevin Bieksa might be at the top of that list.  If a forward were necessary to get the deal done the Wild might choose to go after Ryan Kesler but may settle for Steve Bernier.  A prospect or draft pick is likely going the other way as well.

There haven’t been any rumours but one wonders if Cliff Fletcher and the Leafs might try to get involved.  Fletcher has also rarely shied away from making the bold moves, particularly when rebuilding a team.  Though he may be interested in Gaborik, I suspect he won’t make a move like this since he isn’t the long term GM of the Leafs and might let a future GM make such a move.

There is no doubt there will be a number of teams interested in Gaborik.  He is a superb talent with ample offensive skills.  The main drawback to Gaborik has been his health.  He has only played more than 65 games once in the past 4 seasons (77 last year) and is already injured this season.  That might be enough for some teams to shy away from giving him a long term contract.

Whatever happens with Gaborik, it seems likely that he won’t finish the season in Minnesota.