As we enter the home stretch of this lost season, we are left with hopes of a bright future. The Blueshirts have depth. They have two potential budding stars. But they also have a blue line that is part awful and part horrible. Yes, some of the horribad is due to the system, but some of it is still on the players. That’s why we are seeing a bunch of kids get their shot.
One of the bright spots on the blue line is Brady Skjei. Skjei had a fantastic rookie year, putting up 39 points in 80 games. He took a step back in production this year with just 24 points in 79 games though. There’s more to Skjei’s game than just points, as he’s probably the only left handed defenseman on the team the past two years that can actually move the puck consistently.
Usually it’s relatively easy to find market value for Rangers hitting restricted free agency, especially forwards. The Rangers follow a model for the forwards. Entry level deal, then bridge deal to prove yourself, then your big contract. Almost all of the home grown Ranger forwards have followed that model.
For defensemen, though, it’s different. Glen Sather had a habit of locking up his core defensemen to long term deals after their entry level deal. Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal followed this model. Dan Girardi did not, but he only played one full season under his ELC.
For Skjei, I think it’s safe to assume that he follows the McDonagh and Staal model, getting locked up long term on a deal that may seem expensive now, but will hopefully be a bargain at the end of the deal. Before you jump down my throat, remember that Staal’s bad contract was his third, not his second.
Updated contract predictions for pending Free Agents are up now: https://t.co/CwF6kTUfdZ
— Matt Cane (@Cane_Matt) March 26, 2018
First things first, let’s consult Matt Cane. I feel a little embarrassed that I haven’t used his work as a reference point in my contract predictions before, but I’m fixing it. Matt is pretty good with this stuff and is amazingly accurate.
Assuming Skjei gets that long-term deal, potentially up to five or six years, then Matt has him at around $5 million a season (about 6.25% of the cap ceiling if it gets to $80 million). Again high for what you get now, but hopefully turns into a bargain in years 3-5, right as the next round of forwards are coming off their entry level deals. It’s an endless cycle. For the sake of discussion, a four year deal came in at $4.75 million.
With that in mind, let’s try to find some comparable deals to Skjei to see if Matt’s work has legs (full disclosure: I’m expecting it to, and this is kind of being written in real time). The first two contracts that jumped out at me were Colton Parayko and Morgan Reilly.
Both contracts were in the 6-7 per cent of the cap ceiling range we were looking for. Both were signed in their early-20s. And both deals were 5-6 years at around $5 million (Parayko got $5.5 million). Both were signed after 30 point seasons. Skjei didn’t hit that mark this year, but did last year. Parayko is on the high end of this spectrum, in my opinion.
One last contract to look at is Dmitry Orlov, who just inked his five year deal at $5.1 million per year. It was Orlov’s fourth contract, but he never really broke through until two seasons ago when he put up 30 points in back to back seasons.
So we have a trio of comparable contracts at the range Cane had his model. I think it’s safe to assume that if Skjei gets a 5-6 year deal, we are looking at around $5 million. There’s a chance he gets less because of the step back this year. There’s also the fact that he’s not arbitration eligible. I’d be happy with five years at $5 million, though.