Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Alexei Yashin Memorial Trophy

Awarded to the league's most overpaid player

It's ironic that on the day we announce this award, we have so much to cover regarding contracts. The NHL has rejected Ilya Kovalchuk's 17-year deal with the Devils, claiming it circumvents the salary cap.
Let's see if we can simplify this: Teams often sign players to what's called a front-loaded deal. They pay him a lot of money for the first few years of the contract, after which, they pay him smaller and smaller amounts until the end of the deal. This helps the team spread the cost of the entire contract out over a larger amount of time. This also makes the cap hit smaller, as the salary cap takes the AVERAGE salary, not the year-to-year salary, into account.
Daniel Briere is a textbook example. He signed an eight-year, 52-million dollar contract in 2007, but the final year of his contract pays him only 2 million. That makes it easier to trade him should he not work out, and makes the contract longer, thus the average per-year cap hit smaller.

The NHL has rejected the Ilya Kovalchuk deal, as it seems the Devils had no belief that Kovalchuk would still be playing for them 17 years from now, and that the deal was made so long only to artificially lower the cap hit.

Interesting times. More to follow, I'm sure.

And the nominees are:

Vincent Lecavalier

Vinny has a contract that goes until 2020, paying him 10 million dollars each year until the 2016-2017 season. After that, his salary goes down to 8 million, then 4, then 1.5, then 1 million. This basically makes Lecav un-tradeable until 2017, at which time he'll be 37 years old (no spring chicken). So the Lightning are stuck with his enormous contract and a cap hit of 7.727 million each year.
Last year they paid Lecavalier $10,000,000 for his 24 goals. That comes out to a price of $416,667 per goal. Intangiables count for a lot: added to his un-tradability, his "leadership" has caused most of the problems Steve Yzerman has come in to fix.

Chris Drury

The Rangers have a habit of making decent players into the most overpaid people in the league. The Rangers thought they had a pair of aces when they signed Scott Gomez and Drury to obscenely large contracts. No one, except for Glen Sather, was surprised when those high expectations did not meet reality. Chris Drury's contract has a cap hit of 7.05 million dollars each season; last year, he scored 32 (of which only 14 were goals) points, bringing his cost to $220,312 per point. (The per-goal figure is even nastier.)
He'll make 8 million next season, and 5 million in the 2011-2012 season. Habs fans should actually feel like they got a bargain with Gomez.

Rick DiPietro

What is it about the New York metropolitan area that makes teams spend outrageous sums on decent-but-not-outstanding players? On top of Alexei Yashin's buyout and its hit on their cap, the Isles are also paying Rick DiPietro 4.5 million dollars each year until 2021. (And that's not a cap hit, which, as we discussed earlier, is an average of the contract over time). No, the contract calls for 4.5 million dollars each and every year; no end-of-contract reductions, nothing to make him more tradeable should he not work out. The Islanders will pay Rick DiPietro a salary of 4.5 million dollars for the 2020-2021 season (barring a trade or buyout). Last season, DiPietro was good for eight starts, two of which were wins. TWO WINS. That comes out to a cool 2.25 million dollars the Islanders shelled out per win from Rick DiPietro. Compare that to Dwayne Roloson, who got 23 wins last year at a salary of only 2 million, and you can imagine that Garth Snow is already planning to give him a contract that goes until 2057.

HM: Alexei Kovalev, Scott Gomez, Brian Campbell

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