The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa reports that “only crickets are being heard” when it comes to Brad Marchand’s contract negotiations with the Boston Bruins.
While that might seem like a bad joke for Bruins fans, the fact of the matter is that the team has about $7.6 million in cap space to cover three roster spots (including – presumably – Marchand’s). In other words, it’ll probably just come down to a compromise on money, duration of the contract or some combination of those two factors. It’s hard to fathom a situation in which Marchand isn’t harassing opponents and occasionally filling up the opposition’s net in a Bruins uniform in 2011-12.
What might be the most interesting part of Shinzawa’s brief discussion of Marchand’s contract talks was the player who Shinzawa believes may be watching those negotiations most closely: Buffalo Sabres forward Tyler Ennis. Shinzawa thinks that Ennis could ask for a similar amount of money to what Marchand receives next summer – and Ennis might be able to tack on a “premium” price if he has a strong season in 11-12.
Ennis, the No. 26 pick of the 2008 draft, will be in Marchand’s position in one year: restricted with no arbitration rights. Through his first two pro seasons, Ennis has been a Marchand comparable. In 2009-10, Ennis, as a first-year pro, had three goals and six assists in 10 NHL games. Last year, Ennis punched in 20 goals and 29 assists for 49 points, 8 more than Marchand (21-20-41). If Ennis submits even better numbers this year, the undersized Buffalo forward could be looking at a premium on whatever Marchand scores from the Bruins.
Re-signing Ennis might be a bit of a challenge for the Buffalo Sabres next summer, especially since he will be joined by restricted free agent defensemen Tyler Myers and Marc-Andre Gragnani. There is, however, a small problem with the Ennis-Marchand comparison: they make very different impacts on games on nights when they fail to score.
For one thing, Marchand brings an agitating role that rubs opponents the wrong way more often than it hurts his own team – at least last season. On the other hand, Ennis frustrates opponents with his craftiness, imagination and offensive skill.
Marchand also spent time on the Bruins’ penalty kill, while Ennis’ shorthanded time was negligible last season – another indication that Marchand’s influence extends beyond box scores.
Marchand: 1:20 shorthanded minutes out of 16:46 total minutes per game in the playoffs; 1:34 in 13:59 per game in regular season.
Ennis: one second of shorthanded time out of 16:38 total minutes per game in the playoffs; two seconds in 15:40 per game in regular season.
If Ennis’ agent is savvy, he’ll make the focus merely about points scored and argue that Ennis deserves just as much money – if not more – than anything Marchand will receive. Yet if the Sabres dig a little deeper, they can counter that Ennis played easier minutes than his supposed comparable.
Either way, I’d expect Marchand to be with the Bruins and Ennis to play for the Sabres for quite some time, unless something drastic happens in either case. It just seems like Ennis-Marchand is an apples-to-oranges comparison, unless points end up being your only barometer.
(H/T to The Sporting News.)