On big contracts, and the fears of repeating past mistakes

The Rangers have committed $19.6 million to just a pair of players this offseason, which has grabbed the headlines and shunted the rest of the offseason to the back burner. When the Rangers signed Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba to their seven year deals, some viewed it as a major step in the right direction. Others were fearful that the Rangers were repeating history, and not learning from prior mistakes. This fear is certainly understood.

The Rangers of the past, specifically under the Glen Sather regime, have a history of long term contracts to old players. Leaving out the pre-salary cap era Rangers, the Blueshirts have seen a bunch of contracts blow up in their faces. UFAs Wade Redden, Chris Drury, and Brendan Smith are the big names, but Brad Richards’ deal wasn’t overly great either and the Rangers were saved by the compliance buyout period. Even when extending their own UFAs (Marc Staal, Dan Girardi), these have blown up in their faces. So there’s cause for concern, which I get.

Any long term contract comes with risk. The goal of a team is to find mitigating factors that reduce that risk. For Trouba, he’s just 25 years old, a bonafide 1RD, and has the skill set (puck mover, doesn’t throw his body around as much) that generally ages well. His seven year deal also takes him through his age-31 season, so he’s no grandpa when his contract is up. Panarin is older, and his seven year deal will expire when he’s 34 years old. We will get to that.

The biggest difference here is when the contracts end. Staal will be 34 when his six year deal ends. Girardi would have been 36 when the terms of his six year deal, pre buyout, would have ended.  Richards would have been 40, Redden 39. Smith will be 32 years old, which is the youngest on this entire list. This may not necessarily apply to Panarin, but it gives us tremendous risk mitigation for Trouba’s contract.

So how do we find ways to mitigate the risk of the Panarin deal?

The biggest difference between Panarin and the other 28 year old NHL players is that he only has four full seasons of NHL work under his belt, limiting the mileage on his body. When elite players of his caliber reach free agency, it’s usually with double the mileage and wear and tear on the body. It may not seem like much, but that should lead to less of a slow down as the contract gets into his early and mid thirties.

The other thing to remember is the skill set.. Generally speaking, elite level players age well and don’t crash and burn once they hit a certain age. Panarin is one of the best wingers in the game today, and should be for a decent portion of the contract. Yes, he’s going to begin some level of decline before the contract is up, the smart money is on that. With the cap going up an average of 3% a year until then, the cap hit is going to be less of an impact.

Which is the final point to make – the cap is going up each season, and the 3% rate I mentioned above is a conservative guess. At that rate, the cap will be at $100 million in the final year of Panarin’s deal, and lowers Panarin’s cap hit percentage to 11% from the current 14%. Cap hit percentage matters, more than raw cap hit does.

These two contracts are a far cry from the Rangers of old, who threw money at middle of the roster players. Panarin and Trouba will be at the top of the roster, and top players get top dollar. That was the biggest mistake the Rangers of the past made, who gave top dollar to middle players. That’s the key difference here, along with the age of each signing.

"On big contracts, and the fears of repeating past mistakes", 4 out of 5 based on 17 ratings.

29 thoughts on “On big contracts, and the fears of repeating past mistakes

  • Jul 24, 2019 at 9:53 am
    Permalink

    Dave you left out the worst contract of them all…Henrik. New 7 year contract at age 32 is a fireable offense for a GM

    • Jul 24, 2019 at 10:10 am
      Permalink

      I have to agree that Hank’s contract was too long. 5 years at age 32 should have been the maximum term.After his performance last year it would seem to be hard to argue to the contrary.

      • Jul 24, 2019 at 10:21 am
        Permalink

        This is going to be a very telling year for Hank. He should have a better team in front of him. He needs to play better than last year, where too many excuses were made for him. He must know his window is closing. Can they ride him into the playoffs? Does he have enough left in the tank to play 55 games well? Will DQ play the hot goalie or the experienced goalie? 2019-20 will help write the Hank legacy.

        • Jul 24, 2019 at 10:36 am
          Permalink

          I hope he rebounds. He is a great athlete who has been remarkably sturdy throughout his career. But, at age 65, I know that time waits for no one. It will not be easy for him.

    • Jul 24, 2019 at 7:18 pm
      Permalink

      … and what was the alternative at THAT time? Think carefully before answering. 😉

      • Jul 24, 2019 at 8:54 pm
        Permalink

        Lol lol does Peter work at DCH with you Tanto

    • Jul 24, 2019 at 7:51 pm
      Permalink

      Bro, bro, bro…

      The single most important Ranger of his era, not even close. There’s not one other Ranger in the history of the team that can make that statement.

      He has earned his money. If half the Rangers that came through here did as well, he would have had a Cup.

      I get that RIGHT NOW his contract is not ideal, but Hank Haters have very selective memory. If not for Hank, there is no “run” from 2011 to 2016.

  • Jul 24, 2019 at 10:08 am
    Permalink

    These 2 latest contracts are on par with many of the current contract being doled out by GMs. The Panarin contract, while more dangerous because of his age, is a little different due to his abilities as well as the fact that his talent level rarely is available as a UFA. It was a deal that was going to be made by some team, we made the deal over some more extravagant offers.

    The older contracts mentioned were more of “band-aid” contracts to an already good team. These 2 contracts are different, as they set up the new strength of the team, where additional pieces are contained within the youth that the team has acquired over the past 2+ years. Most successful playoff teams have a stud or 2 follwed by a cast that is hard working and of good quality – Panarin and Trouba are our “studs” with the Kraftsov/s, Kakkos and Chytil the quality additional forwards that come cheaply to support the team growth.

    While the big contracts come at a price (Cap problems), I am of the opinion that these 2 contracts were the correct thing to do at this time. We get over the Cap hell this year, and then it becomes more manageable in the coming years. THis is a Ranger team with a bright future.

    • Jul 24, 2019 at 10:22 am
      Permalink

      I often made comments opposing getting Panarin because of the likely cost and likely length of his contract. Obviously he is a great player who makes the team much better. Now that he is here and now that they landed Trouba (the guy I kind of wanted) my hope is that at age 34 Panarin will still be worth the cash and that the Rangers manage to keep Kreider, Buchnevich and DeAngelo too. If they do, that will be brilliant.

      • Jul 24, 2019 at 10:34 am
        Permalink

        Can they make enough moves this year to get under the Cap and still keep CK? If they do, then I am guessing they resign him, but at less than $7M annually for 4 years. If he is looking for Hayes money, then I think you have to let him walk.

        • Jul 24, 2019 at 10:52 am
          Permalink

          Last night Gene said something is about to go down

    • Jul 25, 2019 at 11:18 am
      Permalink

      There have been many many star players that have signed here and tanked big time. Will these two signings be any different? I hope so. Playing in NYC can be overwhelming to certain players. I think the difference with these two signings are two-fold……..Both of these players are still young and not in there 30’s……Secondly…..different era……..

  • Jul 24, 2019 at 11:20 am
    Permalink

    I quote
    Any long term contract comes with risk. The goal of a team is to find mitigating factors that reduce that risk. For Trouba, he’s just 25 years old, a bonafide 1RD, and has the skill set (puck mover, doesn’t throw his body around as much) that generally ages well.
    On the Bread man I quote
    The biggest difference between Panarin and the other 28 year old NHL players is that he only has four full seasons of NHL work under his belt, limiting the mileage on his body. When elite players of his caliber reach free agency, it’s usually with double the mileage and wear and tear on the body. It may not seem like much, but that should lead to less of a slow down as the contract gets into his early and mid thirties.

    The other thing to remember is the skill set.. Generally speaking, elite level players age well and don’t crash and burn once they hit a certain age. Panarin is one of the best wingers in the game today, and should be for a decent portion of the contract.

    QD is a coach that demand physical contact and wants the skilled players to battle physically.

    We acquired 20 million dollars per year worth of players that does not reflect the style of players QD demands.

    I hope QD will adjust but I don’t think he can.

    • Jul 24, 2019 at 11:28 am
      Permalink

      Trouba will absolutely put a shoulder into a players chest. Look what he did to Auston Matthews last season

    • Jul 24, 2019 at 9:18 pm
      Permalink

      Last year he didn’t have the players to play that way, this year?…..times they are a changing, I disagree with you on DQ, I think he is going to surprise the sh*t out of a lot of people. He could only coach what he had on a team that was sellers! I have full faith I him, and I have to assume, so does JD and Gorton, et al, otherwise why would he be here?

  • Jul 24, 2019 at 11:32 am
    Permalink

    We have had lots of contract failures, but we have had a success. Gaborik comes to mind. He was 27 when we signed him. It may only be 1 contract, but it’s something.

    I fully agree with your assessment on these 2 contracts. Panarin last year or 2 may be not great but, he may surprise us. Marty St. Louis, Joe Thornton, Pavel Datsyuk and Joe Pavelski come to mind of guys who did not decline much if at all by age 34.

    Every player is different. And I am not denying we have had a long sorted history of passing out bad contracts to aging players. In fact that is hurting us now with Staal, Shatty and Smith. But we did move Callahan(I know we got Marty but he got us to the finals) we also moved McDonaugh, before we repeated that mistake again. So maybe we are learning. Maybe…

  • Jul 24, 2019 at 11:33 am
    Permalink

    The thing that bothers me is these players get their long term deals and then don’t live up to them sometimes. Why can’t an owner just buy them out without being hit with a penalty of double the contract years? We fans are the ones who suffer most. Our team has dead money and we can’t get better players etc. To me a team should be able to buy out a contract with no type of penalty. These players win on buyouts because they get the buyout money plus sign another deal with a new team, talk about advantage! The next C.B.A. must have something better for the benefit of us fans.

  • Jul 24, 2019 at 12:13 pm
    Permalink

    Remember that injuries happen in hockey and as long as these 2 players stay healthy, there is no reason to doubt they will be superstars for years to come. To put the Panarin contract in perspective, Hayes got $7M a year for less than two-thirds of the output of Panarin. He signed a very fair contract for us.

    Trouba could become Shatty if he gets a knee injury.

  • Jul 24, 2019 at 2:31 pm
    Permalink

    I have, over the years, expressed my dislike for any long term contracts. I have to make an exception with Trouba, and to a certain extent Panarian. We now have a load of money committed to two players, but it seems to be the pattern within the NHL’s winning teams.

    It appears that the winning cup teams have a handful of top flight players, demanding, and getting top dollars. The rest of the supporting cast is good, to very good, but not stars. This model seems to be the one we are using to build this team, except we have some up and coming stars, in my opinion. Kakko, Kravs, and to a certain extent Chytel, Gerorgiev, Igor, and Buch. With all this youth, and potential star power, we stand to be cup winners in a short period of time, and may be a contender for many years to come!!!!!!!

  • Jul 24, 2019 at 3:24 pm
    Permalink

    3 things:

    1: You mitigate risk by not handing out no movement clauses. The Rangers didn’t do that.

    2: It’s not like Panarin was placed in bubble wrap after graduating out of junior, he averaged 70+ games a year in Russia.

    3: The cap will not be rising 3% a year over the next few years until the new TV contract gets sorted.

    • Jul 24, 2019 at 4:22 pm
      Permalink

      1. The Rangers are in no position to “not hand out” no movement clauses. The market dictates that the players are receiving them. If you don’t offer them you cannot sign Panarin, Trouba, etc. It’s like those who say they should have given Trouba 7.5 mil per or less – not an option. The alternative is to be like Ottawa.

      2. Agree – this talk that Panarin is a young 28 because he only has 4 years in the NHL is ridiculous. Ever read about hockey in Russia – it’s brutal, all day practices, etc.

      3. Don’t agree about the cap increases. Will increase by ~ 3% a year until the new TV contract – then will jump 10% or so.

      • Jul 24, 2019 at 4:54 pm
        Permalink

        1: It’s called discipline. Read the Panarinnpost signing stories: was offered more money elsewhere, his gal wanted him to chase the money and he decided not to. With the structure of that contract, they could’ve asked him to show up at the presser wearing a gimp mask and he was going to do it.

        This isn’t Philly, you either frontload the contract or you have level salaries and the NMC/NTC. You don’t do both when you’re bidding against yourself.

        Yet they keep doing it.

        3: The cap moved 1.5% this year and will be lucky to do that next year with the PA looking to crush escrow.

    • Jul 24, 2019 at 9:24 pm
      Permalink

      1.) If they didn’t, and I hate these more than anyone, you don’t sign him.

      I was ok with that!

      Now?
      He’s a Ranger! LGR!

  • Jul 24, 2019 at 4:57 pm
    Permalink

    1. Agree with Orland, it is unfortunate but if you want to sign the best players the market dictates some form of NTC or NMC will be included.
    2. Agree with Orland. Panarin is a 28 year old hockey player. He has his share of wear in tear.
    3. I do not have a clue about the TV contract & the cap.

    • Jul 24, 2019 at 6:18 pm
      Permalink

      I don’t know how I feel about these deals yet. But I’ll know after this week. I’ve always been skeptical of Gorton. He has always had issues managing leverage when negotiating deals. The build has been going great. But he can easily undo all of that quickly this week.

      To me, we can read 1000 analyses on the subject. But it’s one test for me… if he can make these deals and still keep the talent, then he’s great and I’ll happily eat a humble pie. But if we have to trade any of Kreider, Buch, DeAngelo, etc to make this work, then he blew it in my book.

      Guys like Strome, Names, Shatty, are NOT undesirable in the NHL. The issue is JG backed himself into a corner publicly and now (again) has no leverage. All the other GM’s obviously know this. JG putting himself in a jam is what dried up the market. No one has to help him out of it. And now they only want the goods, because…well…they KNOW he has to do something, so they’re gonna try to make him do something drastic to take a chunk out of his “amazing summer” they’ve all been reading about.

      So if he has to trade the good guys and keep Smith, Names, Strome, Shatty, etc, then he’s not much different than past GM’s who are blinded by the shiny UFA’s and end up screwing himself (and all of us) over.

      • Jul 24, 2019 at 7:19 pm
        Permalink

        chrisqct

        I have to agree with all the points made in your post, especially if we lose some of the kids due to some existing contracts given in the past to our retreads!!!!!!!!!

      • Jul 25, 2019 at 10:57 am
        Permalink

        How will you feel if he gives a team a 2nd round draft pick in order to take Names and Shatty (or any two on your list of tradeables) and their salaries off his hands?

        Also, would trading Kreider be so terrible if the team knows he is going to want a hefty contract (say 7 years @ $7M per )?

        I’ve always viewed the Panarin deal as a trade, Panarin for whoever the team has to lose to get cap compliant. So far we’ve lost Vessy. If it ends up being Vessy, Names, and even Kreider, I’d consider it a fair trade.

  • Jul 24, 2019 at 7:17 pm
    Permalink

    As long as the contract ends early 30’s I can live with it, but once you get past 31 or so you need to expect that the contract will start to look worse, sometimes a lot worse. Of course there are exceptions for certain types of players, those with great legs, low mileage and conditioning nuts — it goes without saying that the base skill level of the player needs to be HIGH to begin with …

  • Jul 24, 2019 at 7:53 pm
    Permalink

    IMO, these 2 players will play top their contracts, for most of their contracts.

    That’s the best statement you can make at this point in time.

Comments are closed.