In a league that just saw Nathan Horton and Dustin Byfuglien traded while Henrik Sedin improbably won the Hart Trophy, we bring you something much more intriguing on Front Office Focus- the contract given to Tomas Plekanec.
Okay, so the trades are pretty darn interesting too, but the Plekanec contract gives fans and front offices a lot to think about. This is essentially the money Les Habitants saved in the Halak deal and represents the only real cap room they have to play with outside of Carey Priceís long-term deal.
TSN reported that ďThe stocky centre opted to forego unrestricted free agency to sign a US $30 million six-year contract on Tuesday. He will make $5 million each year of the deal, which includes a no-trade clause.Ē
While Plekanec had a great year and a very strong performance in Montrealís playoff run, does he deserve $5M per year?
If I told you that Plekanec would be making similar money to the following players, would you say heís worth it? Hereís the list with their current cap hit, courtesy of CapGeek.
Player Cap Hit
Brian Gionta $5.0M
Ryan Getzlaf $5.3M
Marc Savard $4.0M
Damond Langkow $4.5M
Patrick Sharp $3.9M
Mike Ribeiro $5.0M
Brendan Morrow $4.1M
Daniel Alfredsson $4.9M
Mike Fisher $4.2M
Mike Richards $5.8M
Shane Doan $4.6M
Phil Kessel $5.4M
Ryan Kesler $5.0M
Surprisingly, Plekanec had a better GVT (14.6) in 2009-10 than nine of the thirteen players on that list. Using this very basic comparison, it could be concluded that Plekanecís deal is in a reasonable range. That said, we might want to look at a few more metrics. No one buys a car based purely on consumer rating and price, they want to know about mileage, safety features, navigation systems, and so on. In the same vein of thought, we need to look at some of the underlying statistics for Plekanecís performance before we decide if he got an efficient deal.
These six players appeared to be the closest, and most interesting, comparisons to Plekanec based on GVT and cap hit.
Gionta was chosen because he and Plekanec play in the same system and with the same teammates. Getzlaf is considered an elite player, but on the surface appears to have a similar contract value. Sharpís contract was the most efficient of the group selected. Richards was a player with a similarly deep playoff run. Kessel and Kesler are both considered elite young talent, so they provide another angle of comparison.
Season Plekanec Gionta Getzlaf Sharp Richards Kessel Kesler
Cap Hit 5 5 5.3 3.9 5.8 5.4 5
Age 27 31 25 28 25 22 25
Points 70 46 69 66 62 55 75
Standard +/- 5 3 4 24 -2 -8 1
GVT 14.6 10.7 13.9 15.6 13.4 11.7 16.6
Corsi / 60 -7.96 4.01 2.05 21.4 5.3 9.39 11.77
Zone starts 44.3% 55.1% 49.1% 61.8% 46.8% 52.4% 45.1%
GVT per $ (in M) 2.92 2.14 2.62 4.00 2.31 2.17 3.32
Looking at the table, itís easy to see that Plekanec represents the 3rd-best GVT-per-$M of the group. He produced the second most points in the group but alarmingly was subpar in the Corsi department. That would be easy to blame on Montrealís defense-first and counter-attack system, but the Corsi gap with Gionta is better explained by the massive gap in Zone Starts.
While Plekanecís contract appears favorable using only last yearís performance as a guide, it would be a mistake to focus on what was a career year for him.
Iíve further narrowed the group down to comparable players, but focused on their performance over the least 3 years.
Last 3 years Plekanec Gionta Richards Kesler
Cap Hit 5 5 5.8 5
Age 27 31 25 25
Points 59 53 72 57
Standard +/- 4 5 11 3
GVT 11.6 10.3 17.7 11.2
Corsi / 60 -4.76 8.09 -0.71 4.91
Zone starts 46.4% 54.2% 39.5% 42.3%
GVT per $ (in M) 2.33 2.06 3.05 2.24
Once we include data from the last 3 seasons, the picture becomes a little more clear. Plekanecís contract definitely seems favorable to that of his teammate, Gionta. He is younger and has outperformed him in every category except Corsi, but Zone Starts explain that to some degree.
It becomes very apparent that Richards had an off year in 2009-10 and that Plekanec is not the same quality of player, especially when Richards' negative zone starts are considered.
Ryan Kesler is likely the best contractual comparison for Plekanec at this point. I would say that Kesler is a slightly better value, given his huge Corsi advantage and the fact that Kesler has more defensive duties as indicated by Zone Starts.
When it was first announced, I wondered if Plekanecís deal was a little too generous, but there are obvious comparables in the league. The 6-year length is too long in my mind, and the no-trade clause is a bit extravagant for a top 6, but non-elite forward. That said, Plekanec was due to be an unrestricted free agent, so the Canadiens didnít have the leverage they would have liked. Itís not a mistake by Montreal, but itís not a steal either.
The real question will be who else they use to fill out the roster with roughly eight spots to fill and only $9 million to spend.
Ryan Popilchak is a contributor to Puck Prospectus and writes for Sports Opinionated. You can contact Ryan at email@example.com.
Ryan Popilchak is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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