We Could Use a Few Signings, Couldn’t We?

These are salad days for salaries in the NHL. Yesterday came word that the salary cap for 2008-09 would rise to $56.7 million, with a salary floor ($40.7 million) higher than the league’s cap just back three seasons ago, in the first post-lockout regular season. ¬†Stunning. As the salary cap is directly linked to the league’s revenues, which are directly linked to its gate receipts, it’s seems clear that¬†a few folks other than Tiger Woods and Tony Kornheiser are interested in hockey. ¬†
Meanwhile, there remain outstanding — unsigned — some necessarily expensive parts to 2008-09 for the Washington Capitals. The tally: Christobal Huet, Brooks Laich, Shaone Morrisonn, and Mike Green. Boyd Gordon and Eric Fehr need new deals, too, but I don’t imagine those will be that expensive. Right now both Matt Cooke and Sergei Fedorov look like salary cap casualties, luxuries likely unaffordable in ’08. Since I last wrote about matters financial Capitals’ GM George McPhee has managed to sheer off about $2 million in payroll for next season by dealing Steve Eminger to Philadelphia and buying out Ben Clymer. (Ray Shero’s fruitless negotiations with Marian Hossa this month apparently have sheared off $7-8 million from the Penguins’ payroll for next season.)
However, it’s beginning to look like¬†McPhee will¬†need that $2 million¬†to pay Mike Green just in the autumn portion of the calandar next season.
Ah yes, Mike Green. For the congenitally white-knuckled of Caps’ fans, his breakout season in 2007-08, combined with apparently every name New York Ranger leaving Broadway, portends his departure and the swift end of hockey’s renaissance in Washington. But count me among those who think it far from a certainty that Green’s gonna attract a bevy of offer sheets next Tuesday.
For one thing, as great as his game looks, Green’s had only one big-number season, and¬†the price in first-round draft picks for signing him would be exorbitant (as many as five). Additionally, both the owner and the general manager are on record¬†stating that the club will match whatever offer comes Green’s way. For another, offer sheets for restricted free agents (see Tomas Vanek) are in a very real sense¬†one GM’s¬†performing¬†labor for a colleague.¬†Lastly, Green, though a young and inexperienced great talent just as Dustin Penner was last summer, is a primary building block for a contending Caps’ club. Penner wasn’t last summer, nor is he today, one of the 50 best forwards in the NHL. Penner’s was a stupid contract conceived by a stupid GM. Brian Burke allowed stupidity to reign supreme for a moment, but his Ducks won’t soon be looking up at the Oil in the standings.
In Green the Caps know what they’ve got –¬†an already impressive no. 1 rearguard whom they were awfully lucky to nab with a 29th pick in the ’04 draft, one who has¬†a great deal of progression and maturity ahead of him. Likely, too, Mike Green also knows what he’s got in D.C., and specifically in Bruce Boudreau’s system: the green light to pile up points for a really big deal around the time he’s in his prime.¬†
Mike Green will get signed alright. But it won’t come cheap. In fact, Team Green may be pointing to Alexander Semin’s 2009-10 salary ($5 million) and understandably if myopically bargaining that Green’s of greater value to the team than Semin. In an ideal world,¬†Team Green¬†would acknowledge the client’s¬†youth and inexperience and appreciable development still ahead and ask to be made the team’s highest paid defenseman . . . but not like say¬†Anaheim’s best defenseman.
Few however imagine ideal worlds with attorneys and player agents in them.  
Speaking of interesting contracts, remember that “home team discount” deal Sidney Crosby signed? It will pay him $7.5 million in 2013. The thinking here is that Sidney will be a pretty good hockey player in 2013, when he’s still not yet 30 years old. Do you know how many NHLers will be earning more than¬†$7.5 million¬†then? (Mike Green might well be one.) One of them will be Vinny Lecavalier, according to ESPN. Indeed, as early as 2009-10, Crosby may not even be the highest paid Penguin. The intrigue with the Penguins never ends.¬†¬†
Given the number and prominence of Capitals’ restricted free agents, this wasn’t supposed to be an easy summer of negotiating for GMGM. It was made tougher by the breakout seasons by Laich and Green, as well as Morrisonn’s¬†emergence as a top-pairing performer. And while last weekend was filled with the promise of securing hockey’s future, this one is about placating the present. It’s messy but necessary business.
It’s a time to be anxious but not a time to be pessimistic.¬†

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This entry was posted in Alexander Semin, Boyd Gordon, Brooks Laich, Eric Fehr, Front Office, Matt Cooke, Mike Green, National Hockey League, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sergei Fedorov, Ted Leonsis, Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to We Could Use a Few Signings, Couldn’t We?

  1. The Peerless says:

    If the salary cap is a function of the health of Canadian franchises (five of the six Canadian teams played to at least 100 percent capacity last year) and a currency exchange rate phenomenon (the strength of the Canadian dollar), then I wonder just how good the fundamentals are. Factor in that North America is likely to be in the midst of a prolonged economic slowdown, and 2008-2009 might not be such a great year.
    As for Green, I’m expecting he’ll be a Cap in September. Laich?…no.

  2. exwhaler says:

    If Laich agrees to a 1- or 2-year contract in exchange for a lower price tag (so he can cash in when he turns UFA), then he’ll be a Cap. If he does leave after a term like that, the system should have some younger, cheaper replacements ready to go by then.

  3. vt caps fan says:

    Is it too much to ask to get a signing today?
    I’m going on vacation tomorrow and wont be back till the 3rd (bad timing for the hockey lovers in us, but it was also the best timing for us with regards to work… stupid work).
    I’m not asking for a Huet or Green signing YET, but I’ll be happy to check the internet on the 1st to see both of them have resigned; Could we get a a Laich or a Mo signing by the end of the day? PLEASE?
    I’m keeping my fingers crossed… hoping… Come on GMGM

  4. Tyler says:

    I bet that Huet and Laich get re-signed before July 1. Green will get re-signed. The one I’m worried about is Morrisonn.

  5. Sombrero Guy says:

    Good article. The optimist in me believes we’ll be able to keep them, and yes a Capitals fan did admit to being an optimist.
    I am pretty sure that the max compensation for RFA signings is 4 1st rounders though, not 5.

  6. Sombrero, if you link a blogger up with that, I’d appreciate. I based my claim on a summary of the CBA that claimed that free agent compensation for clubs was “largely the same” as under the old. As you no dount know, the scale is based on the amount of dough offered, and the # of picks creeps high as you exceed $3 million. Obviously, with Green, any offering club would be making an offer commanding the maximum number of compensating first-rounders.

  7. b.orr4 says:

    Everyone seems to believe Green is going to get a ridiculous offer sheet, so the question is which team will pull the trigger? Before we answer that question, you first have to ask who can’t. For starters, you have to eliminate any team that doesn’t have it’s own first, second and/or third round choice in next year’s draft (this assume he gets an offer in the $4-5 million range). So here’s the list of teams that CAN’T bid on Green because they don’t have one or more of those draft choices:
    Boston
    Philadelphia
    Anaheim
    Calgary
    Montreal
    Toronto
    LA
    Buffalo
    Ottawa
    Minnesota
    San Jose
    So that leaves 17 teams that can make a bid on Green’s services. Now you have to factor in would they? This takes into consideration factors such as do they have the cap room and/or do they have a need for a player like Green? So here’s the remaining teams and their status:
    Eastern Conference
    Pittsburgh-They’ve already got Gonchar. Plus they got a ton of players to sign
    New Jersey-Spending huge dollars on a young defenseman doesn’t seem like a Lou move, but it could happen.
    NY Rangers-They could be a player, but isn’t Campbell a better move?
    Carolina-I doubt they have the budget
    Florida-They’ve got Bouwmeester to sign
    NY Islanders-Would Green want to play there? Plus, they’re #1 choice could turn into Tavares.
    Atlanta-See Islanders
    Tampa Bay- Budget-wise, I don’t see it. Plus, they’ve got Boyle.
    Western Conference
    Dallas- A possibility but they’ve already got $47 million in payroll committed.
    Colorado-They have salary room and need a star on defense. A possibility.
    Nashville-no budget plus they got Suter and Weber
    Edmonton-Normally, I’d say yes but they’ve got Souray and $44 committed already for next season.
    Chicago-They’ve got $46 million in salary already, but they could be interested.
    Vancouver-They’ve got the salary room and Green is from western Canada. Maybe.
    Phoenix-They’ve got the salary cap room but they’ve also got Jovo
    Columbus-I suppose so, but do you see Mike in Columbus?
    St. Louis-They’re loaded with young good young defenseman and not a lot of salary room.
    So based on this, who are Mikey’s potential dance partners? In the East, it looks like the Rangers lead the way and maybe, maybe the Devils and Islanders. In the West, there’s no clear cut leader, but Colorado or Vancouver could lead the way. The bottom line is that there are some possible RFA suitors for Green, but I don’t expect a stampede like certain analysts have predicted.

  8. Awesome contribution, b.orr (as usual). A real guide for our readers, and me. Taking big-spenders Philly and TO off the table is of no small comfort, but still the Rags loom. I think the point you make about bottom-feeders possibly dealing away a Hedman/Tavares pick is absolutely huge. They do have cap space, and need, but with one-year’s resume from Greener, is it worth the risk? I also think that even at $5-6-plus million, the Caps match, without blinking. So, if you’re a troublemaker team, and with Green far from a polished product in his own end, do you pony up $7 million-plus, long term, to the kid? It could happen of course, but because of astute, across-the-league reckoning like your here, the options sure seem limited.

  9. b.orr4 says:

    Thanks for the kind words, P&B. This is the benefit of summer, more time to goof off. I agree the Rangers are the type of franchise to make an outlandish offer, but I think it might be for Campbell and not Greener. By the way, here’s the RFA compensation breakout per TSN:
    Salary Range Compensation
    Below $863,156 No Compensation
    $863,156-$1,307,812 Third-round pick
    $1,307,812-$2,615,625 Second-round pick
    $2,615,625-$3,923,437 First- and third-round picks
    $3,923,437-$5,231,249 First-, second and third-round picks
    $5,231,249-$6,539,062 Two first-rounders, a second-round pick and a third-round pick.
    $6,539,062 or more Four first-round picks

  10. Muddapucker says:

    I don’t think signing Green by the Caps is a given. GMGM might say he is going to match any sheet, but he has said things before and gone a different direction, i.e. Anton Gustaffson.
    George may really being saying that I intend sign Green and match any reasonable offer sheet to let GMs know that the Caps want him, thus if another team really wants Green he has to go unreasonably high, in which case GMGM may take the picks, particularly if it is a draft lottery potential team.
    I don’t care who is on our roster if the price offered exceeds market value… GMGM will let em go! Any GM worth their salt would.

  11. JR says:

    great posts b.orr!

  12. Muddapucker says:

    By the way… I think that it will take four first rounders to make GMGM even consider parting with Green. Thus, I think it would take an offer sheet in excess of $6.539062M.

  13. J.P. says:

    It’s my belief that the Caps will – and should – match anything up to $6,539,061.99 without batting an eyelash. Second and third round picks are, for lack of a better term, crap.
    As Peerless noted elsewhere earlier (and I’m doing this from memory), Matt Pettinger and Nathan Paetsch are the only players drafted by the current regime in the second round who have played any significant number of NHL games. No third rounders. Sure, there’s still hope for some, but it’s just that – hope.
    Add to that the fact that there are a higher percentage of undrafted players and players taken in rounds that don’t even exist any more playing in the NHL now than players taken in the third round, and you get to the point where you can’t even begin to consider the pick compensation in any matching decision until you get to “four first round picks” (which obviously adds a bunch of teams back into the mix that b.orr’s fantastic analysis eliminated).
    Would $6.5m be more than you want to spend on Green? Absolutely. But you can’t pay lip service to building through the draft, doing it “the right way,” etc. and then walk away from a foundational player – even if he’s just potentially that – over a million or two.
    So I match anything up to $6.5ish in a second, and start thinking about things thereafter.
    As for Laich, I think I match up to that $2.6m cutoff, then let him walk. Mo I’d probably match up to that next cutoff. Gordo and Fehr have no chance at receiving sheets that wouldn’t be matched instantly.
    That’s my two cents. Anyone else want to play along? What’s your upper “match” limit on these guys?

  14. J.P. says:

    Typo Рthere are actually a higher percentage of undrafted players and players taken in rounds that don’t even exist any more playing in the NHL now than players taken in the SECOND round.

  15. b.orr4 says:

    I’m with you, JP. I know some wouldn’t pay him a nickel over $5 million, but look around the league. How many 22 year-old can you find with his upside? Then throw in the fact that he blossomed under Bruce and Green’s upside is through the roof. I just get the vibe from McPhee that he meant what he said, he will match any offer. And as we all know, George is not one for BS. As for Laich, I don’t know. At some point, the budget won’t allow any more increased salaries, particularly when you have to factor in Huet. If Brooks wants/gets $2.5 million, maybe Cooke at $1.9 is a better option.

  16. “Foundation” player is a great description. We might yet fall out of our chairs over what the ultimate pricetag may be, but there can be no denying the role that Green will have for Gabby and this club if it aspires to the big cup.
    I like Laich a lot, but unlike Green, I think he’s replaceable.

  17. NS2NOVA says:

    Quick question, in the compensation draft picks, does it specify in what year those picks are applied? If it was spread over a 2 or 3 year period as opposed to the next year’s draft, it would open up the list of potential teams that may gamble on it by trading off future 1st round picks.
    For my 2 cents, I think we will see a large number of familiar faces come September. Overall the core group that was there last September should carry through. Some of the lesser performing players and deadwood could move on, but the smart move would be to take the core you’ve build around during the re-build, and make necessary tweaks to the system (and maybe add a player where we lack necessary talent or need implrovement)and pick up where we left off last season. And kick Philly’s Ass every game this season, and relegate Sid to pair up with Tiger Woods in a Pro-Am tourney during the first round of the playoffs next spring.

  18. J.P. says:

    @ NS2NOVA: From my understanding they all have to be your own picks and in the following draft(s).

  19. pepper says:

    One of the things that McPhee, I think, has in his favor is having some of these guys home-grown (I know Laich was part of a trade but he was still a largely unknown prospect at that time), and with the organization through its development.
    I’d have to think that its a psychological advantage – making a player think twice about taking steps to play elsewhere for a bit more money when he’s already stuck it out through a few lean years here and been an integral part of the team’s development to this point. Why leave just when the team is on the brink of major success, and not see it through, establishing your NHL legacy for all time!
    Mike, Brooks, are you reading this? 😉

  20. Muddapucker says:

    I doubt there is any team out there dumb enough to pay Green in excess of the $6.5M figure that would cause them to lose 4 first round picks when for a million dollars more they can keep their picks and land Brian Campbell.
    If there is, the Capitals should let Green go, take the picks and sign Campbell. It might cause the Caps to lose Laich to gain cap space, but I think it would work out nicely…
    Only concern is that it might totally screw up team chemistry which is a factor that has to be considered.

  21. The Peerless says:

    J.P.’s argument here (seeing as how it is linked to one of ours) is one of those “context-dependent” variables. Two firsts, a second, and a third could be appealing in a number of contexts, but given the demonstrable lack of success the Caps have had with after-first round picks, the issue is akin to, “do you trade Green for two firsts?”
    And, you have to think of where those first rounders might be. If Green eds up with a Vancouver, it could mean drafting somewhere in the mid-20’s. Are two mid-20’s overall draft picks worth a Mike Green?
    I’d have to agree…the Caps will think a little more than ten minutes, swallow hard, and match a $6.5 million offer sheet, if it was to occur.

  22. TG says:

    Another factor to consider is the salary cap. A really high offer for Green would severely hinder their ability to resign Huet.
    And is there an NBA provision for a sign-and-trade deal so that you could trade players for an RFA signed to an offer sheet instead of draft picks? For instance, if the Rangers sign Green to a $6M/yr offer sheet, could the Caps make a deal so that they would take Staal and Malik instead of the picks?

  23. As some have mentioned, Campbell is the wild card here. The longer he’s still on the market, the less likely a team will pony up 4 first-rounders for Green. But the second Campbell is no longer an option — well, some desperate team may crack and see Green as their only option & present a crazy offer sheet.

  24. Muddapucker says:

    So, I guess its the consensus, that GMGM ought to be offering Green a $6M deal for 2 or 3 years when we suppose that he is going to match up to the 6.539061.99 figure anyway… He might actually save a million dollars over a couple of years.
    Whats it in it for Green? Stability and the chance to play for one of the most exciting and dynamic teams in the league. Additionally, lets face it… playing for Bruce Boudreau is money in the bank. If he plays for another coach in a different system, his value may plummet.

  25. Sombrero Guy says:

    Pucks – B.Orr beat me to it, but here is a link not only to the RFA compensation scale, but a great resource for answering CBA questions across the board.
    http://www.nhlscap.com/faq.htm
    If you click on offer sheets, you’ll see this little bit of info…
    From Article 10.4,
    — Clubs owing one (1) draft selection must have it available in the next draft.
    — Clubs owing two (2) draft selections in different rounds must have them available in the next draft.
    — Clubs owing three (3) draft selections in different rounds must have them available in the next draft.
    — Clubs owing two (2) draft selections in the same round, must have them available in the next three (3) drafts.
    — Clubs owing three (3) draft selections in the same round must have them available in the next four (4) drafts, and so on.
    When a Club owes two (2) or more draft selections in the same round, the signing Club does not elect the years in which such selections shall be awarded to the Prior Club; rather, the selections next available will be transferred to the Prior Club (i.e., a Club that owes two (2) selections has them available in the next two (2) drafts – that is when they are transferred).
    Long story short, teams that don’t have a first round pick in 09, but still have their first round picks in 10 and 11 can sign green to an offer sheet. I haven’t gone back and checked B.Orr’s teams and their respective draft picks, but I suspect he was acting under the assumption that they needed a first in next year’s draft. I believe that is only the case up to $5.23 million, which the Caps would match in a heartbeat.

  26. langway says:

    Jay Bouwmeester is another wildcard in all of this. One could make a very strong argument that the premier RFA defenseman on the market isn’t Green but JBo.

  27. Kim says:

    I have a question on how the whole RFA offer sheet/matching process works. Let’s say that the Canucks offer Green a 5.5 million offer sheet. Green signs and the Caps match. Is it over? Or could another team like the Rangers come back and offer him 6 million before the day’s/week’s end? (I realize that would be not playing nice, just curious if there is a time window or if it is over once the Caps match).
    Also, do the agents talk to the other teams before recommending a player sign? I realize that McPhee said he would match. However, if I were Green I would want to know what the Caps real no Sh## bottom line was before I would sign anything from another team. Could his agent go to McPhee and say essentially that the Canucks are prepared to offer X and see if McPhee will offer option Y before signing the Canucks deal?
    Sorry for all of the questions, just trying to get a feel for how much back and forth between the teams happens here.

  28. b.orr4 says:

    @Sombrero Guy, actually I believe every team still has their first round selection in the ’09 draft, so that really wasn’t a factor in what I wrote. However, the fact that noone has given up their #1 for next year indicates just how valuable it is to teams in the Tavares Sweepstakes. That, of course, plays into what we were saying about offer sheets for Green.
    @Kim, the short answer is that once the Caps accept someone else’s offer sheet for Green, the process is over and the contract passes to the Caps. He’s essentially signed. And I’m sure Green’s agent will use a potential offer sheet as a bargaining tool with McPhee.

  29. Kim says:

    @b.orr4, Thanks! I thought that was how it worked, but was not sure.

  30. Sombrero Guy says:

    B.Orr – I just realized the CBA language was focusing solely on the firsts. “‚Äî Clubs owing two (2) draft selections in the same round, must have them available in the next three (3) drafts.” The only time a club owes 2 in the same round, they also owe 1 second and 1 third. Do those have to be in the next draft, or do the signing teams only need to have 1 second and 1 third in one of the next two drafts?

  31. vt caps fan says:

    So TSN is reporting that philthy just gave J. Carter a 3 years extension for $15M.
    With all do respect to B. Laich, he is no J. Carter. How do you think this effect Laich’s signing?
    And WHY CAN’T THE CAPS RESIGN ANYONE TODAY? Just 1 guy before I leave on vacation. PLEASE?!?!

  32. Muddapucker says:

    There has been a lot of talk about Green, but little about Huet. In a recent Post story, Tarik says, “The 32-year-old can probably expect to double his $2.875 million salary and, if he reaches the open market, figures to have no shortage of suitors.”
    Supposing he gets an offer sheet between $6M and 6.539062.99, as does Green. Together, they may be about $1.2M higher more than GMGM wants to pay annually. Obviously, it has cap implications and may affect other signings.
    The compensation provided by the league may not be adequate for either at that level. Who is the most valuable to the team? Do you sign both and say good bye to Brooks Laich?
    I am afraid the Caps will not come out of this unscathed.
    Actually, I think Huet maybe a bigger worry than Green. I think he is a proven veteran and a critical element of any playoff aspiring team. Green who knows? His year may be more about Boudreau than Green.
    Huet’s game is the same for any system.

  33. Muddapucker says:

    My mistake… Huet is a UFA

  34. VT Phil says:

    While I think Green is a great player and as a Caps fan I would love him to stay in Washington, I have to disagree with most of you and say I’d pay him about 16.5 over three years (5, 5.5, 6). The reason I say this is due to the fact he’s had one good year. Do we forget people like Jim Carey so quickly? One year of great productivity doesn’t mean that he’s going to play great long term and I’m not ready to lose out on potential roll players like Laich to keep Green in DC.
    Moreover, we need a solid blue line, not just one guy. With the exception of Poti and Green, our D stunk it up this year. I don’t care who you have in goal, if we don’t fix our D, we’re not making a Cup run. Getting 4 or 5 solid blue liners is much more important to me than having Green.
    Just my two cents.

  35. Tyler says:

    @ VT Phil
    How can you compare a goalie and a defenceman? Goalie’s can lose confidence and go down hill quick(Jose Theodore)
    You can see that Green has the skill and the skating ability, he’s got the natural talent and he’s got a coach that will let him use it.
    The only thing that concerens me is that we pay Green big money and he doesn’t get better defensivley. You can’t pay someone 6 million dollars to be a liability defensivley.

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