This post is part of Jets Day on PHT…
Here’s something you come to realize if you nerd out about the league’s salary cap for long enough: not all bargain contracts are created equal.
Now, look, any GM worth his salt should be able to take advantage of those precious windows where players are exceeding the value of their deals. The 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks are the gold standard in that regard: they won that first contemporary Stanley Cup thanks in part to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane being on the last year of their rookie deals, allowing them that extra Dustin Byfuglien here and Brian Campbell there.
If a player is talented and healthy enough, you’ll eventually need to pay up. That’s why there’s some serious wisdom to locking down talented guys to longer deals when they’re especially young. (Just look at how ridiculous the deals look for, say, John Tavares and Duncan Keith.)
The Winnipeg Jets faced some serious contract impasses with Jacob Trouba and his agent Kurt Overhardt, yet eventually they enjoyed an eye-popping bargain. With the risk of sitting out a season hanging over his head, the RFA leverage was too much for Trouba, who signed for two years and $5 million.
“I’ve committed to sign here,” Trouba said while confirming he’s rescinded his trade request, per the Winnipeg Sun. “When I signed that piece of paper, everything changed in my mind.”
A pessimist – and, possibly, a realist – might amend that last bit to “everything changed in my mind … for now.” (Possibly adding in some ominous music.)
When it comes to tough negotiations, we’ve seen some examples of short “bridge” deals that end up costly, and sometimes those same players end up traded somewhere else.
If you’re an emotionally vulnerable Jets fan, maybe just console yourself with Trouba remaining an RFA and scroll to a different post, because these examples might be less than ideal:
P.K. Subban: misses some of 2012-13, signs two-year, $5.75M deal with Montreal. Then he gets $9M per season for eight years, and traded to Nashville before 2016-17.
Ryan Johansen: Another Overhardt client whose relationship soured with his team. He was ultimately traded to Nashville, where he makes $8M per year thanks to that new deal.
(Note: Overhardt also represented Kyle Turris, who eventually left the Arizona Coyotes, who must wince every time he scores a big goal for the Ottawa Senators. As evidence that there’s another way, Overhardt appears to be Viktor Arvidsson‘s agent, so it’s not like he’ll outright refuse to sign longer deals that might ultimately benefit the teams involved. Of course, Arvidsson never had that contract-dispute-baggage with Nashville so …)
Now, before you claim that Trouba is far below those players, note that he has a season to compile more impressive counting stats with superior defensive partner(s) …. and he already shows potential from a “fancy stats” perspective. He seems to settle nicely into the top defenseman prototype, by HERO chart measures, as just one example:
With the right opportunities, Trouba could really drive up his value. Such motivation could be very beneficial for Winnipeg in 2017-18, but at what cost in the future?
In a recent edition of “The Hockey PDOcast,” Garret Hohl hypothesized that, while Trouba may compare to the likes of Seth Jones, he might end up costing the Jets more than the $5.4M per year that Jones receives with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Beyond sheer inflation, one might ascribe some of that to something of a bitterness tax. The Jets got their bargain and won that battle, but much like with Subban and others, a talented player might just win the war.