Should the Anaheim Ducks, Bobby Ryan consider a 'lifetime' deal?

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Thumbnail image for BobbyRyan3.jpgThe Anaheim Ducks and forward Bobby Ryan are at a contract negotiation standstill right now. In a rare twist, it doesn’t appear that it’s a straight-up money problem. (I mean, sure, in the grand scheme of things it is … but work with me, here.)

Instead, the biggest sticking point seems to be the length of the contract. Ryan’s camp would prefer a three-year deal so the American forward could maximize his unrestricted free agent years. Conversely, the Ducks can’t afford a three-year pact because their other two young power forwards (Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf) will be unrestricted free agents as well. Instead, the cash-strapped franchise would rather go with a five-year deal to soak up two of Ryan’s UFA years.

My blog buddy Earl Sleek of Battle of California brings up an interesting alternative: what if the Ducks signed Ryan to one of those fancy lifetime contracts? Sleek admittedly says that the idea could be crazy, but hear him out first.

I don’t know that the focus here should be on actual dollars or length — those are quite negotiable, but I picked fifteen years, which carries B-Ry to age 37, and an averaged cap hit of $5.2 M. The individual years go something like this (in millions):

4, 4, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7, 9, 9, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1

What does this accomplish? First off, for the Ducks, they know that they will have four years up front where the actual salary will be lower than the cap hit — this is quite attractive to lower or middle spending teams like Anaheim, where cap hits are largely irrelevant but real dollars reign supreme. Then begins a stretch of seven years where his cash cost will exceed his cap hit — this is much more attractive to rich cap-ceiling spending teams who are much more focused on average salary. I think this means that unless B-Ry proves himself to be incredibly valuable (or valueless), he likely gets traded after four years or so to a “Rich Dad” team. The structure of the deal enables the middle of B-Ry’s contract to look attractive to big spenders in the marketplace, and rather than the Ducks losing Ryan for next-to-nothing in the UFA process, they may be able to pry some assets for Ryan’s somewhat-cheap-cap-hit contract.

For Bobby Ryan, I think there’s some charm to this deal also — he gets some future security, and largely gets what he may be looking for in unrestricted free agency: a nice pay raise and a ticket out of Anaheim. He’ll likely get to play his early 30s on a cap-spending team who likes his lowered cap hit — theoretically it should enhance his chances of winning the cup. And if his game falters in his late 30s, he can retire without missing out on too much of the overall contract value.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for grossmanandryan.jpgWow, the last four years go down by a million each? That’s so … conservative compared to that slap-you-in-the-face Kovalchuk contract.

All joking aside, it’s an intriguing concept. In fact, the biggest snag might be that Ryan may very well want to play through all the years of that hypothetical deal. It seems to me that the vast majority of the guys who sign those deals know full well that they’ll never honor the lowest dollar years of their enormous contracts.

Chances are, the sides will find a compromise that doesn’t involve such a risky investment. (Maybe go for four years so each side gives up a little to make it work?) My guess is that Ryan will remain a Duck, although a sneaky team might want to send a three-year offer sheet to make Anaheim uncomfortable. Just saying.

Oilers to sign Russell to reported four-year, $16 million extension

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When the Edmonton Oilers traded Jordan Eberle over the weekend part of the reasoning was so they could clear salary cap space, presumably to help re-sign veteran defenseman Kris Russell.

On Friday, they completed that series of transactions.

According to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, the Oilers will announce a four-year contract for Russell later on Friday that will pay him a total of $16 million.

That comes out to a salary cap hit of $4 million per season. TSN’s Ryan Rishaug adds that the deal could also include a modified no-trade clause.

Russell has become an extremely polarizing player in the NHL over the past few years so this deal is sure to receive equal amounts of praise and criticism depending on what exactly you’re looking for from a defenseman.

He has never been a strong possession player and doesn’t have a lot of offensive ability — two things teams seem to be looking for on their blue lines right now — which leads to criticism from the analytics side of the sport. But because he is one of the NHL’s most fearless shot-blockers and consistently among the league leaders in that category he is loved as an old-school, defensive-defenseman. That ability was a big talking point for much of the 2016-17 season as the Oilers had their best season in more than a decade (Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Cam Talbot played a pretty significant role, too).

Another part of the justification for the Eberle trade was the fact the Oilers needed some additional salary cap space because of the need to re-sign both McDavid and Draisaitl to long-term contract extensions.

Eberle on his own was going to account for $6 million in salary cap space this season.

Ryan Strome (the player acquired for Eberle) and Russell will account for $6.5 million.

Are the Oilers better off with Strome and Russell than they would have been had they simply let Russell walk and kept Eberle? That remains to be seen, but obviously the Oilers think they are.

Flyers want to add veteran goalie this weekend

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It’s pretty obvious what sits atop Philly’s shopping list this weekend at the NHL Draft in Chicago:

Goaltending.

“We’re going to look for the best option, and we’ll act on it,” Flyers GM Ron Hextall said, per CSN Philly. “The option is figuring out the timing and who is available.”

Currently, the Flyers only have two goalies under contract — Michal Neuvirth and Anthony Stolarz. The former will be in Philly’s mix next year, but the latter’s situation is more complex. Stolarz is coming off major knee surgery and, at 23, lacks experience at the NHL level. He looked good in a seven-game cameo last season (4-2-1, 2.07 GAA, .928 save percentage), but that’s still a pretty small sample size.

So not surprising to hear the following, from CSN Philly:

Hextall would prefer to get a jump on free agency this weekend by making a deal to obtain a veteran goaltender that has two years or less on his contract and is not looking to break the bank.

Or obtain a UFA’s rights if a deal can be struck.

It looks as though the Flyers have all but moved on from Steve Mason, so it’ll be interesting to see what direction Hextall takes.

He does have some options.

Dallas needs to move on from either Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi following the Ben Bishop trade and sign. Former Flames netminder Brian Elliott is available as a UFA, as is Vancouver’s Ryan Miller.

Report: Habs offering pending UFA Radulov a three-year deal

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The Montreal Canadiens and pending unrestricted free agent Alexander Radulov are still working toward a new deal, but it sounds like they’re pretty far apart.

Radulov has reportedly asked the Canadiens for a six-year deal worth $7 million per season, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.

On Friday morning, Sportsnet’s Eric Engels reported that the Canadiens aren’t exactly on the same page as Radulov’s camp.

Per Engels, Marc Bergevin’s longest offer to Radulov has been three years, which doesn’t sound like it’s going to get the job done at this point.

The 30-year-old Russian winger (he’ll turn 31 next week) was one of Montreal’s most consistent forwards in 2016-17. He scored 18 goals an 54 points in 76 games in his first season with the Canadiens.

Even though the Habs were able to land Jonathan Drouin in a trade with the Bolts, they could still use Radulov’s offense going into next season.

During a press conference on Thursday, Bergevin mentioned the possibility of trading Radulov’s rights away before he hits the open market on July 1st.

It sounds like this negotiation will come down to the wire.

Panthers hire Jack Capuano as associate coach

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Former Islanders head coach Jack Capuano had been waiting to get behind the bench of another NHL team, and on Friday he was able to get his wish.

That is when the Florida Panthers announced that Capuano has been added to their coaching staff as associate coach.

He becomes new head coach Bob Boughner’s first big hire.

“I am thrilled to welcome Jack to our coaching staff,” said Boughner in a team statement. “He is a knowledgeable and experienced voice to have behind our bench that will work well with our young players.”

Capuano had spoken to the Golden Knights about their head coaching vacancy before they hired Gerard Gallant and earlier this week there was talk of him joining the Sabres as an assistant to Phil Housley.

The 50-year-old was fired by the Islanders in January after he led them to a 17-17-8 record. During his seven seasons behind the bench with the Isles, he had a 227-192-64 record. They made the playoffs three times during his tenure.