Monday, May 22, 2006

Smile Now, It Won't Last For Long

Here's a prime example of why General Managers should get as much blame--if not more-- for their team's bad fortunes as market size and a CBA. Today Tampa Bay Lightning manager Jay Feaster signed 26-year-old centreman Brad Richards to a five year deal worth an average of $7.8 million a year. You heard me: $7.8 million dollars a year. Only Jaromir Jagr makes more money, now. Not only is that more than a 100% pay increase--which is just retarded--but it also means that the Lightning have used up $20 million in salary cap space on three players: RIchards, Vinnie Lecavalier, and Martin St. Louis. While each are great players, their combined efforts got Tampa Bay as far as a first round ass-kicking this year, after they barely made the playoffs. And all are signed to long-term deals. Perhaps others can shed some light as to why any sane person would make this move, because all I see in this is utter stupidity.

Additional Information:

List of free agents for the upcoming 2006 NHL season.

2005 NHL Team Salaries

***Update*** BoltsMag is breaking down the Richards signing.

***Update*** Ditto Abel To Yzerman


At 3:34 PM, Blogger Avi Schaumberg said...

It's the anti-Buffalo/Carolina strategy!

The only way I can see this working is if the CBA cap escalates by a substantial amount over the next five years, so that the individual maximum of 20% becomes quite a bit larger than $7.8 million.

For example, the high-end revenue sharing contemplated in the CBA is based on league revenues of $2.7 billion, of which the players' share would be 57% (up from the 54% of $1.8 B they're entitled to today).

That would translate into an individual maximum salary of $10.26 million.

This year's league revenue figure was an estimate going in. Maybe Tampa's owners have good reason to think that league revenues will be quite a bit higher over the next few years, in which case their three stars ($6, $6.5 and $7.8 M) look like relative bargains - and good trading chips.

It's the "A-Rod signing" logic: escalating salary environment makes big-dollar deal look bad today, and great in 2010.

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Alex said...

I am quite frankly surprised that they gave Richards more than the $6.7 or so that Lecavalier is getting annually. I figured Vinny had set the market, and that Tusks would be hard pressed to get anything beyond that.

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

The problem for them is that they have about $34 million allocated to 13 players for next year. Forget five years from now. How the hell are they going to sign anybody else right now? Furthermore, what does this do to the rest of the UFA market?

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

And yes, I do realize that Richards was a RFA. That is part of why they signed him now, rather than waiting til he was 27 and a UFA.

At 4:37 PM, Blogger Alex said...

I also wonder if they will have the money to keep Cory Sarich, Pavel Kubina, and Ruslan Fedotenko if they also wish to pursue a netminer such as Evgeny Nabokov or Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

I'm pretty certain that John Grahame won't be back after John Tortorella threw him under the bus after Game 4, but outside of Martin Gerber or Dominik Hasek, there don't appear to be a lot of other options on the market.

At 5:03 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Well we know Legace and Osgood will be available. I would imagine Biron, Raycroft, Esche and Nittymaki might also be had.

At 5:10 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

More importantly, isn't Richards making up about 23% of P.E.I.'s economy now?

At 5:29 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

BTW, Avi, best guess is that the cap goes up to about $46 million next year. That still means the Bolts are using up about 40% on 3 players. They have to be moving St. Louis. They just have to be.

At 5:47 PM, Blogger Alex said...

That would make sense, but who do you see picking up St. Louis at $6.5 mil per year? That's a lot of money for a guy who put up 61 points while playing with some talented teammates this past season.

I doubt that either of Esche or Nittymaki will be made available. Good call on Legace, Osgood, Biron, and Raycroft. The Bolts will have to give up a lot to get Biron, and I'm not sure they can sacrifice many prospects and picks; they're going to need those entry-level salaries to flesh out the team around their big three.

At 8:35 PM, Blogger Avi Schaumberg said...

If Andy is right and the cap moves to $46 M next year, then a 20-percenter would be worth $9.2 M.

Richards was 12th in the league in scoring this year, and he was close to being a point-a-game guy before the strike. The Boltsmag link had plenty of other good claims for him.

So if he's not a 20-percenter, then he's close to it. Which makes him a bargain.

How it skews the budget for the rest of the team doesn't really matter - because if Tampa can't assemble a solid roster of extras (for $25 M if they're willing to go to the max), they can move him and get great value in return.

What I'm trying to say is simple: if Richards is "worth" $9.2 M under a $46 M cap, then anyone who can sign him for $7.8 M should do so. It's inherently a good deal. Figure out the details later.

Getting that price guaranteed for 5 years, when the cap is likely to go up, makes the deal sweeter every year, and compensates for the performance risk inherent in a long-term contract.

At 8:44 PM, Blogger Nathan Muhly said...

I think Avi brings about a good point on salary increases over the next few years. Increased league revenue coupled with the fact that the Bolts are making more money now than they ever thought possible makes this deal seem less ridiculous and at least a bit more reasonable. Having St. Louis/Richards/Lecavelier on one line is a dream for most GMs. I agree that sometimes you have to go out and pick guys up that are underrated and therefore underpaid, but sometimes it is about believing in the guys you have even they don't directly result in a great season. Given the fact that the Lightning won a cup with these three guys on the top line in 03/04, you might start to look at what did change on your team for answers to their relatively unsuccesful season this year. Signing Richards will only inhibit their success in, as you already pointed out, limiting their ability in getting a decent goal tender, which should solve a good deal of their problems. Whether or not they sign Kubina and the rest is secondary as far as skaters go, their top line is what they should, and are, building their team around.

This may lead to inflated salaries, but as far as fitting in with the "new" NHL, it should work out nicely as these are three fast, talented forwards.

At 8:47 PM, Blogger Nathan Muhly said...

Lets not forget Richards did have 91 points during the regular season, which is much better than Iginla who makes a comparable salary over the next few years.

I would say Richards is making up more like 32% of PEI's economy as he still goes up to help on the lobster boats on occasion.

At 10:37 AM, Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

A secret: a good friend of mine has some TB connections and my understanding is that Feaster has a hardon for Vinny, Richards and St. Louis like you wouldn't believe. I'm not so sure that we'll see St. Louis dealt.

The deal for Richards is of course insane. I like Feaster but he's gone bat-shit crazy here. Bad news for Oil fans: Horc! gets more expensive with every stupid contract handed out in FLA. Fuckers.

At 11:01 AM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Yup. And I would assume Stoll and Pisani might get some offers, too. At least they are Group II's.

I find Avi's assertion that it is a steal of a deal interesting. If the cap does go up, and I am assuming that Feaster thinks it will, then it isn't that bad of a deal. You get a guy for five years a year before he turns 27 and is totally unrestricted, and he becomes cheaper--in essence-- every year. Of course, if the league revenues drop and the cap goes down, he is screwed.

I really need to sort through this list of FA's. There is some quality talent out there this year. Has anyone seen anything broken down by positions?

Eric Staal is a Group II next year?

At 11:01 AM, Blogger Kirks said...

Ahhh, thanks Abboud for adding the "Tusks" in there. I know it was for me. :)

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Hey Mark, how do you feel about a guy you used to play with making that much money?

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Kirks said...

I never got to play with Tusks, I only used to get beat up by him. It makes me sick that I will work my ass off my whole life to be worth a 7th of what he makes in a year.

Go Oilers!!! I was close to cheering for my hometown Randy "the man" Carlyle but I just couldn't do it..... the Oil-blood runs too deep now!!

At 1:00 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Hell, you should sue him for being a bully at ND!!!


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