There has been a greater emphasis on paying young stars big money early in recent years and it would appear that at least one team owner isn’t a fan of that. Speaking on the Cam and Strick Podcast (audio link) earlier this week, Stars owner Tom Gaglardi lamented the current contract landscape across the league:
A kid in the third year of his entry-level (deal) puts up 40 goals and now he wants to make $7 million. If you want term with that player, he’s going to take you higher than that. … The stars are taking all the money, and the guys in the middle are getting squeezed.
I think there’s a lot of players in the league making a million dollars who are better players, and then the guys who can put the puck in the net are getting too big a piece of the pie. … I don’t like it, but that’s the market, and that’s the way it works.
While not naming him specifically, it’s quite clear that the 40-goal player he’s referencing is Jason Robertson who led the Stars with 41 goals in 74 games last season. If the asking price on a short-term deal is in the $7MM range as Gaglardi suggests, Dallas will almost certainly have to do a bridge deal to get the 23-year-old under contract without having to part with another player. They have a little over $6.3MM in projected room at the moment, per CapFriendly, but that could jump closer to $7.5MM if Anton Khudobin is healthy and is sent to the minors.
Elsewhere in the Central Division:
- There is some uncertainty on the injury front for the Blackhawks with training camps just a few weeks away. GM Kyle Davidson told Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times that they are still waiting for a firm update on the status of forward Jujhar Khaira who underwent back surgery back in February. At the time, he was supposed to be away from hockey activities for 10-12 weeks so the fact that his availability is still in question would suggest that there has been a setback. The 28-year-old had three goals in 27 games in his first season with the Blackhawks. Davidson also indicated that there are a couple of other players that they’re waiting for information on regarding their availability for the start of camp but didn’t identify who those players will be.
- Still with Chicago, the Blackhawks were hoping to sign prospect Artur Kayumov this summer, reports Scott Powers of The Athletic (subscription link). However, the 24-year-old winger opted to remain with Yaroslavl of the KHL citing family reasons as he signed a one-year deal to stay there instead. Kayumov had 19 points in 42 games last season and his agent indicated that there’s a chance he could sign with the Blackhawks following the KHL campaign.
I agree with not giving guys big money deals coming off ELCs unless it’s the rare case where it’s an undeniable superstar like your McDavid, Matthews, Draisaitl type players. A guy like Robertson though has done nothing but score goes since he came in the league. Maybe don’t give him a max contract yet but what’s wrong with a 1-year, $7 million dollar deal? If he continues to be an elite goal scorer you extend him during the season and you know you’re not paying him too much too quickly. If he comes back down to earth, then you have that leverage to pay him less.
someone forgot about the qualifying offer system and how raises work. if you pay him $7m this year then next year, regardless of how he plays, you owe him a huge qualifying offer just to keep him.
Robertson is a better player than Tage Thompson. The Sabres just gave Thompson a 7-year, $50 million contract. Robertson sees that & thinks I’m worth at least that much. The market gets set by other teams & sometimes that hurts other teams. You can debate all you want about what a player is worth, but when a player gets overpaid by one team, it pushes the price of better players up
Debatable on Robertson being better than Tage over time. It just took Tage longer to develop. Either way the market for young scorers is what it is. The Stars owner better realize it is better signing a 24/25yo to a 7+ year extension than a 28+yo.
The problem with the market setting the price is that teams who aren’t realistically in the competitive picture can hand out big contracts expecting to pass the buck a couple seasons and hope for a miracle in the draft or something. Then a team that was competitive ends up in a situation where they “have” to match that kind of contract or risk pissing off the fans. It’s not conducive to building a winning team or dynasty, nor would I even guess it’s good for the morale of the player who gets a big deal since they take on a disproportionate share of adoration and scorn that depends more on hundreds of variables than their actual play on-ice. Hockey fans and journalists alike often say things like “the contract might not age well.” That should be a sign the league takes more seriously. When teams start putting all their eggs in just a couple baskets, it’s gonna be a frustrating journey. As much as I like #97 & #34, those guys aren’t gonna carry the Sabres, VGK, Stars, or the Oilers or Leafs to a cup solely on their own shoulders. Same with Robertson and Thompson. If you wanna follow the path of the Sabres, fine, but don’t expect different results. I’d put my money on the clubs with the most “team-friendly” deals. But hey, I’m a dumbass anyway: I can barely tell the difference between 4.5 and 7 million.
I imagine teams are also banking on a significant change to the salary cap as well to bail them out down the line, which does seem reasonable, assuming that my assumption that league revenue and salary cap are closely related is accurate. I haven’t actually checked as I’m generally afraid of what I’d find if I got to poking around. Hockey is the only sport I can still enjoy lol