The initial reaction to the Ryan Getzlaf contract extension was that the big centre didn't
give Anaheim a "hometown discount." What does that mean for free-agent-to-be Corey Perry? The Ducks seem to have four options.
Bob Murray is basically in Witness Protection these days, choosing to say as little as possible about his 2013 Duck hunt. It's bad for reporters, but it's smart business for the Anaheim GM.
The team re-signed Ryan Getzlaf 26 days before the NHL's trade deadline. It sounds like the Ducks were hoping to get him signed for an average annual value of $7.5 million US, but realized that wasn't going to get it done. There is no way Murray could have approached the April 3 trade deadline with both Getzlaf and Corey Perry untethered. The former was more "signable" and Anaheim closed the deal.
The initial reaction to this contract was that the big centre didn't give Anaheim a "hometown discount." Maybe, but it's very likely that if Getzlaf hit unrestricted free agency, the crush to get him would have pushed his AAV even higher (a little more on that below).
What does it mean for Perry? The Ducks have four options:
Privately and publicly, Anaheim has made it clear this is what it wants to do. It's very difficult to get a handle on exactly how the negotiations have gone, because both Murray and agent Pat Morris are keeping quiet.
According to a couple of sources, the Ducks were willing to do a long-term deal prior to the lockout (probably in the area of nine years), but were not interested in the "back-diving" structure now banned in the NHL.
That's a moot point, however, if Perry doesn't want to stay. It's believed he would like to be closer to home (Ontario), although the team's impressive 18-3-3 record is making his decision much more difficult. There were times early this season people around him thought this was affecting his play, but he's got 18 points in the last 12 games.
All you can do if you're the Ducks is, sometime in the next few weeks, throw your best offer at Perry. My guess: that's going to be eight years, between $72 and $80 million. The team has to make the player say no. If that happens, you go one of three ways:
This is a brutal choice. If you're trading Corey Perry months before unrestricted free agency, you're not getting a ton -- unless you can somehow create a bidding war for his services.
If you don't trade him, you risk losing both Justin Schultz (last year) and now Corey Perry for nothing.
Other GMs are not envious of Murray, because of the added complication: Anaheim looks like a legit Stanley Cup contender. In that position, you're adding, not subtracting. Nothing destroys a dressing room more than an organization that "gives up" when it has a chance to win.
"Sorry, Teemu." Yikes.
If Anaheim was mediocre, this is a much easier move. Damn Boudreau.
Go for it
New Jersey did it with Zach Parise and got to within two wins of a Stanley Cup. Nashville did it with Ryan Suter and got to the second round. Dallas did it with Brad Richards and didn't get into the playoffs. None of those players re-signed.
Who's the last team to win a Stanley Cup with a cornerstone player about to hit unrestricted free agency? Nikolai Khabibulin never played for Tampa after 2004, but the lockout played into that. Joe Nieuwendyk for New Jersey in 2003 is probably the right answer.
Doesn't happen often. But I'm a believer in the idea that it's so hard to win, you go for it when you have a shot. One executive made a great point: you go to your owner and ask what he wants.
Does he want the possible playoff revenue a team with Corey Perry can get you? Or will he say, "Let's get something while we can."
There is one "newer" choice, too:
Play ball together
One of the features of the new CBA is that teams can re-sign their own free agent to an eight-year deal, while those that sign someone else's must stop at seven seasons.
Plus, there is a time period where players can shop themselves to all interested bidders before actually signing. Maybe Perry hears everything and decides to stay. If not, the Ducks could say to him, "Look, is it possible you'd tell us the two or three teams you're interested in, so we can pit them against each other and try to make a trade? In exchange, you get an extra $9-10 million."
Here's the problem. If I'm, say, Toronto or Detroit and I know I'm getting him, my response to Anaheim would be, "Why would I trade you a valuable asset? Sure, I'll give you one of my problems, but an important piece? I'm just about to get him for nothing."
Lou Lamoriello has a saying: "When you have time, use it." Murray's got a few more weeks but, barring a signing, it's an ugly scenario.
1. Under the previous CBA, no one thought Alex Ovechkin's annual cap hit ($9,538,462) would be eclipsed. Some teams and agents warned that the term limits in the new agreement would mean larger dollar amounts for franchise players. Getzlaf's new deal is proof we're heading in that direction. Perry's will be big, but the true bracket buster is Evgeni Malkin. Sidney Crosby recently admitted what was suspected, that he understands Malkin's AAV will be larger than his. Crosby is at $8.7 million.
2. The Penguins can talk to Malkin now, but can't sign anything until the summer. Another franchise player, Claude Giroux, is in the same situation. Chicago can extend Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane next summer. All are represented by the same agency (CAA). Are all of these players going to see their annual salary start with nothing less than an "8?"
3. The other factor is how much two players can eat from a team's cap. We know next year's ceiling will be $64.3 million, and then it looks like it's going back up. Crosby and Malkin combine for $17.4 million in 2013-14, the highest for a duo on any team in the league. That figure will increase when Malkin is extended. The Ducks' payroll rank for the last five seasons (starting now and moving backward): 22nd, 19th, 16th, 19th, 16th. They now qualify for revenue sharing. Can ownership convince Perry the team will be competitive with two guys chewing up a quarter of the cap?
4. The Flames were very impressed with Anaheim goalie Viktor Fasth in their 4-0 loss on Friday night. They had several good chances on tips, deflections and screens. Fasth always seemed to be in perfect position, no matter what happened in front of him.
5. Calgary: Jay Feaster will not discuss individuals. I asked him Saturday if negotiations have even begun with Jarome Iginla (they haven't). He said, "I'm not going to talk about Jarome specifically. Every time his name comes up publicly, there's an outcry." Even topics like extending Jay Bouwmeester (can do it in July) or Joey MacDonald, he's keeping it quiet.
6. What Feaster did say is this: it is "an organizational decision" that they are not going to tear down and rebuild. They're just not going to do it, no matter how much we all think they should. But, he added, "We do recognize we have certain contractual issues we have to deal with." He also indicated that any moves they make will try to address their smallish stature at centre, a problem that extends to some of their prospects, too.
7. The one thing everyone should remember about Iginla is that he is tight with owner Murray Edwards. There may not be any talks yet, but if he wants to stay -- and they want him to stay -- it will get worked out. Could he get traded, then come back in the summer?
8. The Oilers have some big decisions to make, too. Ryan Whitney is getting traded for sure. What's interesting is it doesn't seem like there's been much conversation with UFA-to-be Ladislav Smid. The defenceman is just 27. The only other free agent who will be younger than him and really plays is teammate Mark Fistric. I'm a little surprised they haven't talked much, because that position is a weakness for Edmonton.
9. Just like the Perry situation, Edmonton won't get a ton for players who are about to be free. That's why you're probably going to hear Ales Hemsky's name again, but I wonder about Shawn Horcoff. I stress this is just me talking here, but would the Oilers and/or the player consider it? (He has a no-move clause through this season.) The pros: teams covet competitive centres. Horcoff is certainly that. Check out his contract -- two years left at declining numbers, as almost $26 million of his $33 million is already paid. That's manageable. The cons: They need his defence and face-off work. They are also hurting for veteran leadership.
10. Every team goes through "drags" during a season and now is Vancouver's. Minnesota came at them with an edge, and the Canucks had no answer. The question they must address: Will Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler solve this problem, or is there a deeper malaise?
11. Alex Killorn told a great story last week. As the Lightning returned from their last road trip, Steve Yzerman sent director of team services Ryan Belec to bring Killorn to the front of the plane. The GM had great news -- get a place, you're staying with the club. The message was delayed for a few minutes, though, as Killorn disappeared. What happened? "I was looking for gum," Killorn said. "I was worried my breath was bad."
12. Tampa Bay's Cory Conacher on his idol (and teammate), Martin St. Louis: "He's still developing... He watches more video than the whole team does. He's the last one on the ice after practice. He cares about hockey, cares about winning, cares about his teammates."
13. Conacher's road to the NHL is a great story, and L.A.'s Jake Muzzin is authoring another fantastic tale. Pittsburgh took him 141st overall in 2007, then chose to relinquish his rights and not offer a contract. Went back in the draft. No one took him. Went to Chicago's summer camp, not signed. Went to Nashville's training camp. Cut. Went back to Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL in 2010, was the league's defenceman of the Year. The Kings signed him, and he's got five goals this season.
14. There's a lot of speculation about Tampa's coach, Guy Boucher. Saturday's loss, in which they blew a 3-1 lead to Montreal, was a kick to the solar plexus. Yzerman sat in his box for awhile after that one with assistant GM Julien Brisebois and assistant GM/director of player personnel Pat Verbeek. I didn't get a chance to talk to Yzerman about it, but the sense around the organization is Boucher will get the full season to make it work. Goaltending is a huge problem and no coach looks good when that's bad.
15. Unusual: according to The Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson, Boucher has one more year on his contract. But his assistants' deals are up in June.
16. One thing the Lightning must fix is the amount of odd-man rushes allowed. When Tampa gets the puck behind the opposition's net, they really like to send guys hard to the front for a potential scoring chance. Opponents say there is plenty of opportunity for counter-attack if you can defend this.
17. Nazem Kadri told Hockey Night in Canada's David Amber that he knows the next step in earning Randy Carlyle's trust is improving his faceoff work. He's at 45 per cent, and it's not like the coach hides him depending on the zone. Kadri said he learned lessons lining up against Vincent Lecavalier, who was constantly disguising his plan by changing hand locations and positions.
18. One NHL executive on Kadri: "His improvement is incredible. He's come so far. He's not a great defensive player, but he's worked very hard at knowing where to be and how they want him to play. The organization deserves a lot of credit, but so does he for the willingness to improve."
19. Yzerman on Sidney Crosby: "He's making it look easy right now... The game has slowed down for him."
20. Let's look at some numbers. Since October 2010, Crosby has 148 points in 89 games. He has more multi-point games (49) than scoreless ones (20). He's never gone three straight games without a point. When he's been on the ice this season at even strength, the Penguins have outshot the opposition (including blocks and misses) 456-336.
21. Crosby has had only five games this year in which, at five-on-five, opponents have had more shot attempts. The funny thing is four of those games were wins for Pittsburgh. Ottawa did it twice, Washington and Philadelphia once each. His worst game (the whole team was awful) came Feb. 28 in Carolina. Crosby went minus-7 that night, seeing a lot of Eric Staal.
22. Despite all of the offence, coach Dan Bylsma has taken great pains to show the Penguins video of goals they scored from getting the puck deep in the offensive zone and winning battles there. There's a still a mindset problem in Pittsburgh -- they can outscore you and they know it. Trouble starts when they make mistakes carrying the puck in neutral ice.
23. Bylsma has also spent a lot of practice time on "fronting" drills in the defensive end. Martin St. Louis really praised their work in that area following Pittsburgh's 4-3 win over Tampa on March 4. "I saw him after the game," Brooks Orpik said. "He said it was impossible to get to the net against us." Now they've got to be more consistent at it.
24. Two big wins for Penguins backup Tomas Vokoun, including one in relief over Philadelphia. He stopped 37 of 38 shots one week after giving up 10 goals in 90 minutes. Both Kelly Hrudey and Glenn Healy noticed Vokoun was having serious trouble getting up after going down. He did not play during the lockout. At 36, maybe he needed time. The Penguins need this week to be the true picture.
25. I'd heard Raffi Torres called Matt Cooke to ask for advice on how to change your game. Bad scoop. "No, we haven't spoken," Cooke said. "But, if he wants to, I'd do it."
26. The Bruins hope to add forward Carl Soderberg after the Swedish playoffs. Scouting report from a Canadian who faced him overseas: Big, strong and skilled, but the question will be if he plays fast enough for the NHL. Soderberg stayed on Malmo (a second-division team) for many years before moving to the Elite League because he was comfortable there. Will fellow Euro Zdeno Chara help make this huge adjustment easier?
27. Once Calgary and Los Angeles play tonight, every team will have reached the halfway point except Boston. Its 24th game will be Tuesday in Pittsburgh. For the rest of this season, the Bruins have back-to-back days off just once (March 28-29). One reason is a snowstorm-related makeup against Tampa.
28. NHL governors are receiving their realignment voting ballots Monday. Responses will come via fax, and the plan should pass handily despite an unhappy team or two or three. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly is in Sochi while commissioner Gary Bettman meets with the IOC about broadcast issues. Olympic participation was in trouble if realignment was torpedoed by the NHLPA. Now that it's approved, only a major, unforeseen snag will prevent an Olympic return.
29. How important is health? The Canucks lead the NHL with 12 players appearing in every game. Second is a tie between the Kings, Bruins and Penguins (11). Those four teams are a combined 58-26-11. (Chicago led that category until last week.) Worst attendance? Five players from Colorado and Buffalo have appeared in all their team's games. Six for Columbus, Florida and the Rangers. Their combined record is 49-58-19.
30. One more: Chicago and Los Angeles have used the fewest number of players, with 23. Pittsburgh and Montreal are next at 24. Combined: 69-23-9. A ridiculous 11 teams have already dressed 30 or more. The leaders (with 31) are Calgary, Carolina, Florida and New Jersey. Record: 42-41-16. Could be worse. (Thanks to Stan Nieradka for the numbers.)
Elliotte FriedmanElliotte joined CBC in October 2003 and is a commentator with Hockey Night in Canada.
As part of his duties with Hockey Night in Canada, Friedman hosts Inside Hockey, a feature airing every Saturday during Scotiabank Hockey Tonight that tells the stories of the people and places that shape the game of hockey. Always committed to giving viewers the inside story, fans call follow him throughout the regular season and playoffs on Twitter.
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