Aug 032011
 

As we all await the results of Shea Weber’s arbitration hearing we are all speculating the salary that the arbitrator will award Shea Weber.  Speculation is that Shea Weber is asking for $8.5M and the Predators are asking for $4.75M.  Damien Cox believes he is probably going to get awarded $7.5-8M.

Dion Phaneuf makes $6.5 million per (all figures U.S.), and Weber is a superior player from the same 2003 NHL draft class. The same goes for Weber as compared to Brent Burns, and Burns signed a five-year, $28.5 million contract (cap hit $5.76 million) with the San Jose Sharks on Monday, eight years after being the 20th pick in that ’03 draft.

So we know the floor here for Weber’s services has to be $6.5 million, and the ceiling around $7.5-8 million.

That seems to be the common sentiment around the league.

Notable Nashville Predator blogger Dirk Hoag from On The Forecheck tweeted his prediction of $7.25M.

I’ll guess Weber gets $7.25 million. Phaneuf’s a comp at $6.5M, but Shea also has the “C” & a Norris nomination.

Personally, I believe these numbers are significantly higher than an arbitrator will award Weber.  First off, Damien Cox uses Brent Burns contract as a comparable but it is not a valid comparable because Burns’ new contract is considered a UFA contract (he would have been a UFA next summer) and thus cannot be used as a comparable in arbitration.

Phaneuf is a decent comparable and I’ll also toss in two additional comparables of Brent Seabrook and Keith Yandle.

Player Year Prior Two Year Prior Three Year Prior
Shea Weber 82GP, 16g, 48pts, 56PIM, +7 78GP, 16g, 43pts, 36PIM, even 81GP, 23g, 53pts, 80PIM, +1
Dion Phaneuf 82GP, 17g, 50pts, 182PIM, +12 79GP, 17g, 50pts, 98PIM, +10 82GP, 20g, 49pts, 93PIM, +5
Brent Seabrook 82GP, 9g, 48pts, 47PIM, even 78GP, 4g, 30pts, 59PIM, +20 82GP, 8g, 26pts, 62PIM, +23
Keith Yandle 82GP, 11g, 59pts, 68PIM, +12 82GP, 12g, 41pts, 45PIM, +16 69GP, 4g, 30pts, 37PIM, -4

The closest comparable to Weber as far as their stats in the years prior to signing their contracts is Phaneuf.  Their goal and point totals are very close though Phaneuf has far more PIMs and a better +/- rating.  Seabrook has lower point totals 2 and 3 years back and is much less of a goal scorer than Weber.  Yandle on the other hand signed his contract after a great 59 point season in which he was third in points by a defenseman.  He is a better goal scorer than Seabrook but not quite to the same level of Phaneuf and Weber and has a shorter track record of performance.

As far as contracts go, Phaneuf signed a 6 year contract with a cap hit of $6.5M,  Seabrook signed a 5 year deal with a cap hit of $5.8M, and Yandle signed a 5 year contract with a cap hit of $5.25M.  Based on the stats that can be used in any comparison, it is difficult to argue that Weber is measurably better than Phaneuf was in his pre-contract season(s).  From that one would suggest $6.5M is an upper limit on Weber’s contract.  Under normal circumstances one would suggest that Seabrook’s contract is a lower limit but we must remember that Seabrook’s contract eats up several seasons (4) where he could have had UFA status where as Weber’s contract only covers a single RFA season and Weber would still be an RFA next summer.  In that respect, Yandle’s contract might actually be a better comparable, plus is it based on more recent market conditions, not 3 years ago.  Yandle is one year younger than Weber and has 3 more RFA seasons to Weber’s 2.  Yandle’s contract pays him $4.75M, 5.0M, 5.25M, 5.5M and 5.75M over the next 5 seasons.  The overall average is $5.25M but his 3 RFA season average is $5.0M.

Two other possible comparable players are Duncan Keith and Dustin Byfuglien.  In Keith’s case he signed a 12 year deal with a cap hit of $5.538M but I really don’t know how to compare a 1 year deal with a 12 year deal.  In Byfuglien’s case he signed a 5 year deal with a cap hit of $5.2M but with his history of playing both forward and defense makes any comparison much more difficult.

So with that we have the best comparables being Phaneuf at $6.5M and Yandle at $5.25M and that I think is the range I think the arbitrator is looking at.  There is only one defenseman in the NHL with a cap hit over $7M (Brian Campbell at $7.142M) so I would be shocked if there was an award above $7M.  Furthermore, there are only 8 defensemen with a cap hit over $6M (Campbell, Chara, Bouwmeester, Boyle, Phaneuf, Redden -not really in NHL though, Timonen, Lidstrom) and only Phaneuf signed his contract as an RFA so even arguing that he is worth $6M is a tough sell IMO.  In the end I suspect Weber will get awarded a contract somewhere around the $6M point, possibly a little more, possible a little less.

Update:  The arbitrator awarded Weber a 1 year $7.5M contract.  This tells me that the arbitrator is using actual dollar figures in his decision and using players like Duncan Keith ($8M) and Seabrook ($7M) and their front loaded contracts.  This means front loaded contracts are hurting the NHL owners in arbitration now.  This means had Parise gone to arbitration he could have used Malkin ($9M) and Spezza ($8M) as comparables and got a contract significantly higher than the $6M he agreed to with the Devils.

Aug 162008
 

The Hockey News’ Rankings in the Yearly Yearbook were released, and for the West they’re as follows:

1 Detroit Red Wings
2 San Jose Sharks
3 Minnesota Wild
4 Dallas Stars
5 Anaheim Ducks
6 Edmonton Oilers
7 Chicago Blackhawks
8 Calgary Flames
9 Nashville Predators
10 Phoenix Coyotes
11 Vancouver Canucks
12 Columbus Blue Jackets
13 Los Angeles Kings
14 Colorado Avalanche
15 St. Louis Blues

Detroit at the top is an absolute no-brainer. They won the Cup and somehow got better by adding Marian Hossa. They’ve got Pavel Datsyuk locked up for awhile, and it’s hard to see Henrik Zetterberg not follow suit. Niklas Kronwall, and to a lesser extent, Jonathan Ericsson, look to take over Nicklas Lidstrom‘s mantle when he retires. They’re going to remain a powerhouse for years to come.

I have a hard time believing Minnesota will finish atop the Northwest Division. They lost key offensive pieces in Pavol Demitra and Brian Rolston, and replaced them with two aging veterans (Owen Nolan, Andrew Brunette) and a mid-level winger in Antti Miettinen. Their biggest acquisition is Marek Zidlicky, but the Flames have improved more – Calgary’s the early division favourite.

I don’t think the Oilers will finish that high. Adding Lubomir Visnovsky was huge, but they will miss Jarret Stoll‘s shot on the PP. Erik Cole was also another nice add, but I don’t think Visnovsky and Cole makes them better than the Coyotes. Their biggest question mark remains in net, and with some quality goaltending in the West that might be their downfall.

The Coyotes to me are a playoff team – they’ve got a talented forwards, a responsible captain, a respectable defense highlighted by a rejuvenated Ed Jovanovski, and good goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov. The dogs have tons going for them, and with Kyle Turris expected to make the squad out of training camp the team will be loaded with offense, led by the newly-acquired Olli Jokinen, who might get his first taste of playoff hockey this season.

How the Kings are ahead of the Avs and Blues is beyond me. Technically, they don’t even exist in the NHL because they’ve yet to reach the salary floor. Even with they do be re-signing all their RFAs, their team is laughable at best, and just might win the Calder Cup. This team needs at least two more season to grow before they’re even a playoff contender – it looks like they’re going for the John Tavares sweepstakes and rebuilding Pittsburgh-style.

The Avs, even without Joe Sakic for most of the season, remained competitive until the late stages of the season. Should Sakic retire, they don’t have a player to take over as captain or offensive dynamo yet, although Paul Stastny comes close. A healthy Ryan Smyth and having Adam Foote for a whole season, with some of Darcy Tucker‘s toughness, will make them a respectable squad, but like the Oilers, their biggest question mark remains in net.

Stay tuned for the East.

Aug 132008
 

Despite the fact that the Lightning defense still seems a little suspect, boasting little veteran presence or even a big name, Oren Koules maintains that he is satisfied with his current defensive corps. The Lightning still have to get under the cap enough to ensure that they can accommodate Steven Stamkos‘ cap hit, which would be 3.75 should he reach all performance bonuses. Remember that this upcoming season is the last year of the current CBA agreement, and that there will be no performance cushions. Nashville, as noted in the article, remains a very enticing trading partner, with 13 draft picks in 2009 and a plethora of young talent on their blueline. A trade makes sense for both teams, as JP Dumont has voiced his opinion that the Preds need more bite. Jussi Jokinen, who will be replaced by Vaclav Prospal on the top line, Michel Ouellet, and Jason Ward remain their biggest trading chips. The Lightning enter next season as a Southeast Division contender once again, although it remains to be seen if a young defensive corps and Mike Smith will hold up. David has a more in-depth look at the Lightning’s roster here.

Mark Parrish apparently is the Canucks’ answer should they fail to land Mats Sundin. Folks at TSN are calling it Mike Gillis‘ “Plan B,” although it should be more like “Plan D,” considering the discrepancy between Parrish and Sundin. As the Sundin saga dragged along (it’s now rumoured that he is leaning towards retirement, if only anyone knows what means nowadays), it was clear that the Canucks had no answer should Sundin not sign. Gillis maintains that he has been talking trade with several teams regarding one or two defenseman on his team, but I would think that he would like to keep his defense intact. When Parrish was bought out, he was immediately linked to Vancouver and Nashville, two western teams that have had plenty of looks at the big forward. Both teams were in similar situations and needed to get bigger and better offensively. A lot of fans in Vancouver aren’t very happy with how things have gone this summer, after all, Gillis had promised sweeping changes and a drastically different team with offense as its number one priority. So far, the only sweeping changes have come upstairs and the team remains arguably as potent offensively as it was last year, which is to say, still not very potent. Should Parrish find himself in Vancouver he will get looks on the top line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin, but for now Steve Bernier seems to be the favourite going into camp. It’s tough to gauge what sort of money Parrish will get, but I would be very surprised if it is anything over a year.

Aug 112008
 

Mark Parrish and Glen Murray may find a new home soon. The Predators counted on Alexander Radulov entering the season as one of their main scoring threats, but now that the emerging sniper has returned to Russia, it leaves a big hole on their offense. Although the Preds have decent offensive punch, without Radulov they really lack a game-breaker forward. Even with Steve Sullivan back, their wingers remain largely undersized and only above average. The Preds have never blown teams away with their offense, but rather with their grit and determination (losing Darcy Hordichuk will hurt, trust me), deep defense, and good goaltending. Neither Parrish or Murray, especially the latter, are the big goalscorers they used to be, but if the Preds are looking for depth they might be the answer. It is a much better option than trading away valuable assets on their blueline (they’ve already lost Marek Zidlicky to the Wild) for the Lightning’s unhealthy excess of forwards. Parrish has publicly stated that he is considering the Preds as one of his potential destinations.

The Kings have suddenly jumped back onto the NHL news wire, after remaining very quiet during the free agent frenzy. The purple and black have reportedly signed prospect Drew Doughty to an entry-level contract. The second overall selection in this year’s draft was a key player for Canada in the WJHC’s, being named the tournament’s top defenseman. The Kings have clearly got a very poor defensive corps, and although Tom Preissing has been respectable , he’s not exactly first pairing material. Should Doughty make the team out of training camp, I highly doubt he’ll be getting top four minutes. Preissing, Jack Johnson, and Matt Greene will be their top three, with potentially Denis Gauthier or Peter Harrold rounding it out. Doughty, because he’s so impressive, does not deserve to play only 10-15 minutes a game. Defensemen, as a general rule of thumb, take longer than forwards to develop, and I don’t think another season at Guelph would hurt. He is clearly heads and shoulders above the rest of the competition, but I’d rather see him log 25 minutes with the Storm rather than riding the pine in the NHL. He’s still got tons of room to improve and sitting on the bench won’t help. I think the Kings are going to let him play 9 games and then send him back to the OHL. Anything less or more is a waste of time for all involved.