Ice hockey’s most dangerous contract, a brief history of a shiny new game deal

It has been an ideal season thus far. One of many largest blockbusters of the previous decade, The Flames and Panthers was a very surprising late-night change that noticed Matthew Tkachuk head to Florida for a package deal that included Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie, and Jealous.

The Blackhawks are publicly deteriorating whereas the senators are loaded, with each instances highlighted by the deal that despatched Alex DeBrincat to Ottawa. The Golden Knights dumped Max Pacioretty at Carolina for nothing, whereas Wild needed to take Kevin Fiala to the Kings. We would not end it as a result of commerce rumors swirl round males like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Touse, Pierre-Luc Dubois, JT Miller and David Pasternak.

All of those actions have been superb in their very own approach, or they are going to be. However this isn’t a very powerful factor they’ve in widespread.

We have to speak about a shiny new recreation state of affairs.

That is harmful. It will probably be dangerous information for followers in Ottawa, Calgary or the Carolinas, in addition to any crew which may tempt guys like Miller or Kane. It additionally makes it look extra probably that we’re about to see at the very least some groups make crushing errors they’re going to remorse for years to return.

Let’s clarify what is going on on, the way it occurred up to now, and what we will study from that.


What’s a shiny new recreation?

Negotiating a contract within the NHL is all about leverage. Generally the crew owns it, like when a younger participant’s entry contract expires and his rights stay underneath the crew’s management for years to return. Generally the participant has it, like when a founding star hits a free company, or a lovable franchisee is on an expired deal and wishes an extension earlier than he walks away with nothing. In these instances, groups usually overpay, as they might really feel they’ve little alternative.

As an enormous fan of discussing dangerous contracts, I do not say this flippantly: There could also be no set of circumstances extra harmful for a crew or group extra useful to a participant and his agent, than the dreaded Shiny New Toy. It is a class of dangerous contracts that I first proposed in an article I wrote six years in the past. I do not know if you happen to’ve learn this or not, however I am positive the NHL GMs did not, as a result of if something, the checklist of errors is getting worse.

The state of affairs is triggered when a crew acquires a star participant in a giant deal, normally out of nice fanfare, after which has to take care of the extension instantly. The participant they simply acquired both wants a brand new contract instantly or has a deal about to run out, making them eligible for an extension.

This places the crew in hassle. Certain, it is nice so as to add a brand new participant, however now they need to maintain it. Their followers are excited. GM reads the media protection concerning the superb job he is performed. They could even promote extra season tickets. However all that positivity vanishes in the event that they let this new star fly away for nothing in a yr or so.

The crew wants the participant to signal a long-term deal. And the participant and his agent know that completely nicely. That is why they’ve all of the leverage.

Put your self in GM’s footwear. You simply held a press convention to indicate off your new acquisition, and bragged to the world how superb it’s. You could have given up beneficial belongings to get it. Are you actually going to take a seat on the bargaining desk and act such as you’re not offered?

You can’t. You need to pay. It usually results in catastrophe.

What are some examples of shiny new recreation disasters?

Nicely, till you perceive what the shiny new recreation seems to be like. However how usually does it actually find yourself being as dangerous as I simply described it?

Let’s begin with a current instance. Final summer season, the Blackhawks traded for Seth Jones on July 23, dropping a bunch of excessive picks and Adam Boqvist. Jones was heading into the ultimate yr of his deal, with UFA standing looming, so the Hawks instantly signed him for an eight-year, $76 million extension. This contract raised eyebrows on the time, and a yr later seems to be one of many worst within the league, with Dom ranked second on the checklist of dangerous offers.

We do not have to scroll down this checklist to search out extra shiny new video games. Sabers traded for Jeff Skinner throughout the 2018 offseason, realizing there was solely a yr left earlier than the UFA put in. They ultimately paid to maintain him, giving him eight years and $72 million, which Dom ranks because the third worst contract within the league proper now.

We are able to discover a bigger instance on the backside of the checklist at Erik Karlsson. The Sharks traded for him in 2018, heading into the ultimate yr of his contract, and in the end giving him a whopping eight years and $92 million to remain. Now carrying the largest blow for a defensive man in NHL historical past for one more 5 years, he is been damage and has solely been efficient often ever since.

Let’s go on. How a few Rangers deal for Jacob Troupa in June of 2019, then handing him over seven years and $56 million a month later? The Sharks dropped Evander Kane’s first-round choose in 2018, then gave him seven years and $49 million just a few months later. Jonathan Drouin acquired six years and $33 million from the Canadians on the identical day they gave up Mikhail Sergachev for him.

Justin Falk earned seven years and $45.5 million from the blues on his acquisition day from the hurricanes in September 2019, though a full yr left on his deal. Lastly, a bloated Ryan McDonagh contract that Lightning solely needed to dump on the Predators was signed simply months after he acquired it from the Rangers in change for a bunch of picks and predictions, proving that even sensible groups can fall sufferer.

This isn’t a current phenomenon. We are able to look again at different questionable contracts years in the past, just like the Hurricanes that gave Jordan Staal a 10-year, $60 million contract in 2012, simply days after he traded on the draft ground. The Senators traded with Bobby Ryan within the wake of Daniel Alfredson’s loss to the Crimson Wings, then needed to give him seven years and $50 million over the lifetime of the deal a yr later.

Those self same senators despatched Jason Spiza to Dallas in 2014, then watched the celebrities give him 4 years and $30 million in a deal that just about instantly felt overpaid. Cory Schneider’s disastrous seven-year, $42 million extension got here a yr after the Devils traded him in entrance of his hometown followers.

We are able to go on, even again to the pre-max days, the place arguably the worst buying and selling and contract commerce we have ever seen was a traditional shiny new recreation state of affairs. However I feel you get the purpose. When a crew makes a big-name deal that wants an extension, they’re in very harmful territory.

Can a shiny new recreation contract succeed?

If you happen to’re a Flames fan who acquired this far on this submit, there is a good probability you are terrified proper now. That is the half the place I’ve to provide you some optimism, with an inventory of shiny new recreation contracts which have labored rather well.

The issue is that I am not totally positive there are any.

Definitely, not one of the contracts generally talked about among the many prime offers within the league fall into the Shiny New Toy class, though these contracts are normally these signed by elite younger gamers simply previous to the breakout, and these are hardly ever traded Males. Moreover, we needn’t discover an ideal contract as a counterexample – only a first rate contract will do the trick.

Are there candidates? You may make a case for Mark Stone, who acquired eight years and $76 million from Vegas simply days after being kicked out of Ottawa. That deal appeared affordable on the time for a person who was thought-about among the many league’s elite wingers, however accidents have underestimated Stone in recent times. The jury remains to be out, however Stone will nonetheless find yourself doing nicely.

It is too early to speak about males like Kevin Fiala in Los Angeles (a few deal that almost all of us appear to assume is okay) or Humpus Lindholm in Boston (which might be rather a lot richer). If we return additional, we will discover a pair of team-friendly contracts for 2015 like Doogie Hamilton’s Calgary deal and Ryan O’Reilly’s take care of the Sabers, which in the end labored out higher with the Blues, however nonetheless match our standards.

However maybe the very best counterexample for Flames followers is one that may be bittersweet: Matthew Tkachuk’s eight-year, $76 million extension with Panthers. Technically, he signed that take care of Calgary as a part of the league’s first signing and buying and selling, however I feel we will let that be within the spirit of the factor. Tkachuk hasn’t performed any recreation underneath this contract but, however it’s Already getting rave evaluations.

If the Panthers can provide up as a lot as they did with Tkachuk and nonetheless signal an affordable contract, then maybe there may be hope in different comparable conditions. Or possibly Tkachuk is simply the exception that proves the rule, as a crew circumvented the Shiny New Toy curse by placing the contract earlier than the deal was performed. Look, I needed to depart some optimism for the Flames followers, and that is the very best I can do.


Mark Stone. (Ethan Miller/Getty Photos)

So what did we study?

Would not the phrase “do not commerce stars who want equipment” an oversimplification? I feel it is perhaps. Given the period of time I spend complaining about GMs not doing the offers, I actually do not wish to exclude an entire broad class of them.

So let’s go together with this: whereas the stellar participant’s contract expiring is perhaps the one purpose why he is out there to commerce for within the first place, groups need to be very cautious with regards to making these offers.

This can be a cautionary story for Flames, with each Huberdeau and Weegar. It is price remembering for senators, with DeBrincat. It might be an issue for Hurricanes and Pacioretty, though this deal might be extra of a designer rental. It is a purple flag for anybody who may take into account pulling the set off on Miller, Dubois, Kane, or different stars changing into out there in an identical scenario, even when the offers themselves appear to supply stable worth.

Purchaser consciousness. As a result of the file right here may be very dangerous.

(High picture of Seth Jones: Christopher Hanwinkel/USA Right now)