Blog Entry

What's a goalie worth these days?

Posted on: July 28, 2010 4:11 pm
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Poor Ilya Kovalchuk. It’s gotta be tough sitting around wondering when and where you’ll get your next $10 million a year pay check. And until we all find out, here are a few random thoughts.

The Hawks are on the clock with Niemi: And that’s a dangerous place to be for the Stanley Cup champs. Niemi is slated for an arbitration hearing Thursday, and unless the two sides reach a deal first, it could end up pricing the goalie who took Chicago to the title as a rookie right out of town.

So far this summer the Blackhawks have done the kind of axing on their payroll that would make Lizzie Borden proud, but they’ve managed to keep a core group of their five best forwards and four best defensemen intact in the process. Niemi presumably should be part of that group because he’s only 26 years old, but Chicago may not be able to fit him in because the team is already at the cap limit and may still has only 17 players signed.

Certainly Niemi has earned a big raise from $800,000 he made in his remarkable freshman season. Chicago would like to sign him for around $2 million a season, but comparable goalies like Jaroslav Halak and Pekka Rinne have recently signed deals worth in the $3.5 million range and neither has a Cup win on their resumes. If Niemi wins in arbitration, the Blackhawks may be forced to walk away and lose the goalie to unrestricted free agency. 

In that case Chicago could turn to Cristobal Huet, the $5.6 million mistake still on their books or prospect Corey Crawford barely lost the backup spot to Niemi last season. Veteran free agents Marty Turco and Jose Theodore are still looking for jobs and might be desperate enough to be affordable as training camp nears too. But most of the legitimate goaltending stop gap solutions went early in free agency this and losing Niemi could create the kind of hole in Chicago’s lineup that even its collection of superstars can’t plug this season.
Remember what happened to the Tampa Bay Lightning when Nikolai Khabibulin left after winning the Stanley Cup.

This Russian is coming, not going: Alexander Frolov signed a one-year deal with the New York Rangers for $3 million which seems like a bargain for a skilled 28-year-old forward who already has a couple of 30-goal seasons to his credit. Or at least a no-risk gamble.
Frolov has plenty of talent and showed several flashes of it during his time in Los Angeles, but fell out of favor with Kings coach Terry Murray last season and struggled enough to depress the market for his services as he hit free agency this summer. Still he had a lucrative offer from the KHL in Russia, but Frolov aid he was wanted to prove he can still play in the NHL. 
Having that kind of motivated player around never hurts, especially on a short term contract so Frolov could end up being the kind of steal Maxim Afinogenov was last season for Atlanta, or at least a nice sidekick for Marian Gaborik. But Frolov’s problem is that he tends to disappear from time to time, which is why he ended up in the even-tempered Murray’s dog house. Should be interesting to see how he responds to the volatile coaching of John Tortorella in New York.

It rhymes with woosh: And starts with the letter ‘D.” You know the word and Pittsburgh’s Max Talbot, not excusing his French because he was speaking in English used it in a radio interview to describe Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. The Caps star hasn’t responded yet, but if you ever wondered how deep the disdain really is between these two teams, stop now. Pittsburgh and Washington has become the NHL’s most heated rivalry mainly because of the games within the games between Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, but the antipathy runs throughout both lineups. The only unfortunate part is that the conference rivals will never get to face off in the Stanley Cup Final, which is one reason the Winter Classic between them next January really should be must-see T.V.  You can expect plenty of hype leading up to it too, maybe even some of it coming from players who might be tempted to follow Talbot and tell you how they really feel.

Ice Edge melting: The group is still the front-runner to buy the Phoenix Coyotes from the NHL, but Ice Edge lost its exclusivity negotiating window this week when it failed to provide the city of Glendale with all the documents required for its bid to re-work the arena lease with the city. That’s the most critical part of Ice Edge’s effort to keep the team where it is. Glendale officials are anxious to make it happen, lest they get stuck with an empty building they paid $183 million to build a few years ago, but understandably they want to make sure the suitors are capitalized properly. So far Ice Edge hasn’t been able to demonstrate that, although the group has been in  and out of the picture for months. But as much as the NHL is desperate to find someone, anyone (other than Jim Balsillie of course) to take the team off its hands without relocating it, Ice Edge has been unable to close the deal. Meanwhile, a well-funded group from Winnipeg continues to lurk patiently in the background, ready to bring the franchise back to where it started. Don’t be surprised if that happens by the end of the year.

 

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Category: NHL
Comments

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: July 31, 2010 11:16 am
 

What's a goalie worth these days?

The other main problem that is going against the devils and Kovalchuk is that the last years (I believe for 5 of them) he is making the league minimum.  Now the cap hit is based on the assumption that in 17 years the league minimum will not go up.
Well i have to admit, that part of the contract made me scratch my head and almost had me siding with the league if not for all of the other contracts they allowed.  Kovalchuk and the Devils were morons doing that.  Why would you even allow those last 5 years on that contract to exist at today's league minimum wage?  Is it so Kovie can say he broke 100 million dollars??? I don't get it....  it was very cocky of New Jersey to do that.....

Make it 12 years and pennies under 100 million and we're all set... the league can go to hell and that's it......  



Since: May 9, 2008
Posted on: July 30, 2010 10:05 am
 

What's a goalie worth these days?

Additionally, if it was SO CERTAIN as many Hawk fans put it, that he will be sent down, don't you think they'd have worked out a deal with Niemi by now?

No, because even sending Cristobal Huet down doesn't free up enough space to sign Antti Niemi for more than 2 million dollars.  If you look at the Hawks roster with Huet they are over the cap currently, so they would have to trade someone (really someones unless that someone is Brian Campbell).  I'm pretty sure if they had intentions of keeping Huet in the NHL next year they would've traded people already and that is why most Hawks fans seem confident they are sending him down.  As it is, Huet will have to be sent down otherwise there is almost no reaslistic way they get under the cap.  If you would like I could show you the numbers, but I would recommend you goto capgeek and play around with their calculator and see why there is no way Huet can be on the Hawks without significant changes.

I know you guys won the cup, but you have to be realistic about things.  I've seen so much garbage come out of Chicago fans mouths that it makes me wonder how they even believe this themselves.  Trying to defend some of the departures like it isn't going to hurt, you just sound like the Penguin fans from last year who all but were convinced that there was just no way possible they could not win the Cup again.  It's time to get real people and realize the signing of Campbell and Huet has pretty much crippled this team.  Appreciate the fact you got lucky enough to have it pay off in 2010 because it probably won't happen again for at least 3 to 4 years before they can dig themselves out of this.I think most Hawks fans are being reactionary to attacks that they've traded away all their best players and will suck next year.  Versteeg, Byfuglien, Ladd, Madden, and Sopel (and probably very shortly Niemi) will all be missed as their replacements are going to be young and inexperienced.  They clearly aren't as good this year on paper as they were last year.  But that can be overcome if Kane, Bolland, and Toews develop more, some of the young guys step up, and they don't experience the fatigue from playing deep into the playoffs.  I think what most Blackhawk fans are saying, is that they will have a good team next year, probably not a cup winning team (I and most of the Blackhawk fans I know don't think they are the favorite in the West), but with the luck of staying healthy, everyone continuing to improve, and a few breaks, they could potentially win it again. Pretty good top two lines, great top two d-pairings, and a questionable goalie (even if it is Niemi, I still list him as questionable) makes a fairly solid team. But when they are responding to someone talking about the dismantling of the team, it sounds similar to the response Red Wing fans give when people attack their team as being old and their run is over.  Neither statement is correct and both sides are tired of hearing the comments.  I don't agree that it will take 3 to 4 years to dig out of this, although I do think it is unlikely they win again in the next 3 years (just because it doesn't normally happen, as it's hard to do), but I think they'll make at least the WCFs in that time period.




Since: Aug 22, 2007
Posted on: July 29, 2010 2:38 pm
 

What's a goalie worth these days?

What I'm baffled at is the number of people lost to actually think that the sending down of Huet will DEFINITELY happen.  I think you guys are missing the big picture here and why this story is still relevant.  I want you guys all to step down from the other planet you are living on but I'm guessing the Chicago organization doesn't want to shell out 5.6 million to a goalie to sit in the AHL.  Additionally, if it was SO CERTAIN as many Hawk fans put it, that he will be sent down, don't you think they'd have worked out a deal with Niemi by now?  The closer this thing gets to the arbitration the more and more the chances of Huet going down becomes irrelevant.  If they let this thing get to arbitration, he wins and collects 3.5 million it still means they are in a world of hurt, just with the goalie they want.  3.5 compared to 5.6 is 2.1 different and that move would mean that they have to pay a 2nd goalie still, whcih would eat approximately half of that money.  This means the Hawks STILL only have 17 guys signed, as the article mentions.  Last time I checked no hockey team can succeed with 3 lines.  To have to fill an entire 4th line with little to no hockey could mean if Kane/Toews and Hossa don't all have 100 points this team loses because of poor 3rd/4th lines.  I know you guys won the cup, but you have to be realistic about things.  I've seen so much garbage come out of Chicago fans mouths that it makes me wonder how they even believe this themselves.  Trying to defend some of the departures like it isn't going to hurt, you just sound like the Penguin fans from last year who all but were convinced that there was just no way possible they could not win the Cup again.  It's time to get real people and realize the signing of Campbell and Huet has pretty much crippled this team.  Appreciate the fact you got lucky enough to have it pay off in 2010 because it probably won't happen again for at least 3 to 4 years before they can dig themselves out of this.  



Since: Jul 29, 2010
Posted on: July 29, 2010 1:55 pm
 

What's a goalie worth these days?

The Hawks can not use Huet.  At $5.6 Million per year, he crushes their salary cap.  If they keep Huet on their roster, they can't field 20 players.  I'm surprised the writer does not know this.

As for the comment about Niemi, the poster clearly did not watch the Hawks this season.  The controversy resulted only from Niemi's inexperience.  He was superior to Huet all season.  The reason it took so long for him to win the job was Huet was the veteran, $5.6 Million starter and Niemi the unknown rookie back-up.  Look at Niemi's stats in the regular season.  Go back and watch his games.  He was tremendous all year to the point that there was absolutely no controversy in the playoffs.  In spite of starting from well behind, he blew past Huet by the All Star Break.

The Hawks will regret it if they let Niemi go.  Find common ground on a 1 year deal and work out an extension next year.



Since: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: July 29, 2010 1:49 pm
 

What's a goalie worth these days?

I noticed that too.  There are a lot of mistakes in that article.  How does that happen?



Since: May 8, 2007
Posted on: July 29, 2010 1:01 pm
 

What's a goalie worth these days?

If the arbitration comes in $3M+, Niemi is gone, IMO.  Crawford still is unsigned and the team can't dress a full roster yet.  Sure, the Hawks have their best 5 forwards and best 4 D-men, but those players can't log increased minutes for 82 games to saty competitive and have anythign left for the post-season.  Hawks had numerous players on Olympic teams, a long post-season, short summer, and lost a lot of depth.  This team finishes, at best, 5th in the West.  Throw in a couple of injuries, and they struggle to make the post-season.  The new streak of years without a Cup begins in 2010-11 for the Blackhawks.  This isn't hating. . . just a realistic view of the cap hell this team sits in now and for the next couple of years.  Next year they need to re-sign Seabrook and then they have to look to deal Sharp, because he will be too expensive given the money they have already thrown around if they want to get anything of value for him.

It will be very interesting to watch the Hawks home-opener when the Wings come to town. 



Since: May 9, 2008
Posted on: July 29, 2010 12:48 pm
 

What's a goalie worth these days?

Precedent is huge when it comes to any judge or any form of a judge making a decision.  If the league points to the CBA the union's lawyers will point at those other contracts.

I'm not saying this is incorrect, because you are right and this will certainly be considered, but this isn't the exact type of precedent that is huge in courts.  There are plenty of examples of situations that are where the exact same situation happens and a company acts differently. The most common one is with substance abuse policies.  Almost all companies have a clause that they can fire you if you fail a drug test.  And while most companies take a 0 tolerance policy, if it is not stated exactly that way, then they can selectively fire some people, but put other people through a rehab program or other treatment.  It is within their right to make that decision.  This situation is significantly different in that it is a union, but the same idea applies.

The other main problem that is going against the devils and Kovalchuk is that the last years (I believe for 5 of them) he is making the league minimum.  Now the cap hit is based on the assumption that in 17 years the league minimum will not go up.  This is the first contract to do this, making it no longer similar to the other contracts. They can then claim that Kovalchuk will most likely have to get paid more in those years (because of an increased minimum due to inflation) and thus his cap hit would have been incorrectly determined.  Therefore, they will have circumvented the cap.  Or they can claim that at this point the devils would be forced to buy him out, reducing their cap hit significantly, and having reduced what it should've been over the previous period.  Showing then intent to circumvent the cap.

This contract is different enough that the league has many options on how to attack it.  I'm not sure they win and I agree that all of these contracts should have been voided at the start.  I will admit my confidence in the league went down when I heard them say they would look into the previous contracts like this if they win.  I'm not sure how you veto a contract already in progress, but I wouldn't put anything past the NHL.




Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: July 29, 2010 11:21 am
 

What's a goalie worth these days?

If it were really 10 years at 95 million, the league wouldn't have a problem. However, once the extra years at a minuscule salary were added, they had to act.

I agree. Of course the league wouldn't care if it was 10 years, 95 million and a 9.5 million dollar cap hit.  But the league allowed other owners to do similar contracts that significantly lowered the cap hit and approved those contracts.  I would be shocked if the league won in arbitration because the precedent they set does matter.  Precedent is huge when it comes to any judge or any form of a judge making a decision.  If the league points to the CBA the union's lawyers will point at those other contracts. The league will then have no real answers.  If they try what you said above, the fact the contract ends when he's 44 and not 40 or 42 then they'll have to show the arbiter where in the CBA it says that 40 or 42 is the magic number. 

Luongo made 10 million last season, 10 coming up this season and almost 7 million for 7 seasons after that yet his cap hit is only 5.3.
Hossa gets pennies under 8 million dollars per season for 8 years yet his cap hit is only 5.2 million.
Zetterberg makes between 7.5 and 7.75 million per season for 9 years yet his cap hit is only 6 million dollars.

Kovalchuk's contract is a little more extreme so to speak and stretched a little further but the principle is the same.  His cap hit is 6 million dollars where he has 5 years at 11.5 million per season.  But don't forget the first 2 seasons are only at 6 million dollars per season, right at the cap hit.  So if Kovalchuk suddenly fails or gets hurt the Devils still have almost 90 milliion dollars to worry about... would need 60 million dollars to buy him out.  That is a significant risk to them other teams don't worry about.  If Luongo got hurt after 2 seasons or played terribly their buyout would barely hit 30 million dollars.  After 2 seasons Detroit could buy out zetterberg for less than 40 and franzen for about 20.

New Jersey should win this battle easily in my opinion... I don't know how the league can possibly allow teams for years to circumvent the salary cap and then suddenly claim somebody went to far.   And I'll take it further and say if the league loses here, they better get something done quickly or this is going to get stupid.

Soon enough you would see a player that signs a 30 million dollar contract sign for 15 years where he gets 25 of that in the first 5 years and minimum wage of a half a million dollars per season after that for 10 years.  It'll be a 2 million dollar cap hit for an allstar instead of a 5 or 6 million dollar cap hit.  A gentleman's agreement will be in place where the owners will agree to buy him out after 5 years and he'll be an UFA again after 5 or 6 years.

It's a joke.. I don't agree at all with what people are doing but rules are rules.. as a league they should have challenged the FIRST TEAM that tried this..... had they done that, win or lose they at least would have a fighting chance... but they sat back and watched instead.. and for that, they'll burn.

If anything, the league could "win" where they are forced to knock 3 years off the deal or something. Maybe it raises the cap to 7 million per year and his potential retirement age becomes 41..... 

But either way, the union is sticking it to the league....



Since: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: July 29, 2010 10:44 am
 

What's a goalie worth these days?

Redwings1969 - While I won't say that you are wrong, I doubt either side feels as confident as you do.  The contract does not violate the CBA, but the league does have the right to veto and contract that is designed to circumvent the cap.  I couldn't find the section in the CBA, but I know it is in there.  They can prove that this contract was designed to circumvent the cap, as everyone pretty much acknowledges that these contracts are designed to circumvent the cap.  It will be interesting to see if an arbiter looks only at the CBA (in which case the NHL does have the right to veto this contract) or if he considers what they previously allowed and considers this in the same category.  I don't think anyone really knows how this will end, but I will say with the NHL pushing this (and they could have delayed because there is no system arbiter) they must feel pretty confident. What I think the problem was with the Kovalchuk deal was mostly its length. He would be playing until age 44. That's 2 years older than the current NHL oldest player- Mark Recchi of the Boston Bruins. Hossa's contract, for example, has him playing until 42. That's a long time, but still doable. Zetterberg and Franzen, two others mentioned in the mix as similar to Kovalchuk's deal, both would be playing to 40, which is a bit more reasonable.

In addition to the length, a sticking point was what the deal did to alter his cap hit. It started out as 10 years, 95 million, 9.5 million cap hit. Add in 3.5 million in year 11, 750K in year 12, and a league-minimum 550K in 13-17, and his cap hit dropped to 6 million. It's fairly obviously a move to drop his cap hit, and enable him to be easily moved in the later years.

If it were really 10 years at 95 million, the league wouldn't have a problem. However, once the extra years at a minuscule salary were added, they had to act.





Since: Dec 16, 2009
Posted on: July 29, 2010 9:07 am
 

What's a goalie worth these days?


Certainly Niemi has earned a big raise from $800,000 he made in his remarkable freshman season.

Let's not go overboard here. I'll hand it to Niemi. The kid had a great postseason. He backstopped a team to its first Stanley Cup in about a half a century. But, this is the same goalie that was part of last season's biggest goaltending contreversy. Who do you start, Niemi or Huet, when neither seem to be getting the job done? Giving this kid a huge payday might be an over compensation. The Blackhawks just traded away a good chunk of their corps from last season. Their offseason moves leaves questions to what team will show up on the ice next season. He helped in the postseason, which is a great thing. But, to get to that point, they had to charge through the regular season despite their goaltending issues. Just a long winded resonse to I think he hasn't done enough to get the huge payday he's looking for. He just did what he did at the right time.


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