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Is Mikko Koivu's contract worth too much money?

Jul 16, 2010, 10:50 AM EDT

mikkokoivu.jpgYesterday’s announcement of Mikko Koivu’s seven year, $47.25 million contract extension seemed to bring out a lot of exasperated and aghast reactions. Some folks still aren’t even aware of who Mikko Koivu is in some cases. The main reaction, however, was incredulity. “What?! How is he worth nearly $7 million a year?!”

I guess that’s the right question to ask here: Is Mikko Koivu worth that kind of money? Brian “Buddha” Reynolds over at Hockey Wilderness certainly believes so and vehemently at that.

What was really happening is that Koivu was (and of times still is) out against the opponent’s top line. It makes it more difficult to score when you are slated with preventing the other team from scoring. The top line for the Wild serves as a scoring /checking line. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are not out to shut down Sidney Crosby when he visits, but Koivu and Brunette are.

Oh, and his point total has gone up every season except the Mathias Ohlund cheap shot stick chop season.

Got it? To re-cap: Koivu has been hosed his entire career, and yet still puts up 60-70 points. Put him on a line with another great player. Then, and only then, can you tell me he doesn’t stack up with those other guys. Put the other guys on a line with Bruno (Andrew Brunette) and Mittens (Antti Miettinen) and let’s see how many points they put up.

I’m not sure that Reynolds wanted to have it look like he said the Wild had a rough going of things by saying that Koivu has been “hosed” his whole career, but out of context it could look like that. That said, if you can name a big, scoring winger that’s played alongside Koivu throughout his career you’re a better person than I am. For the record, no, Martin Havlat did not play on Koivu’s wing last year at all. Havlat was on a line with Kyle Brodziak and Guillaume Latendresse.

So you’ve got the view of the Wild fan on what they think of the deal, but how about someone a little bit separated from the situation who can view things for what they are? Thankfully, the statistical gurus from Behind The Net are here to help shed some light on things.

He literally does everything: he takes on tough competition, he wins faceoffs at a very high rate, he scores and he logs a huge amount of PP and PK time.  Even though Minnesota seemingly followed a strategy of conceding shots (but limiting the quality of each chance), they’ve consistently outshot their opponents when Koivu is on the ice.  The only potential downside for Koivu is injuries, but he’s been very durable over the last two seasons.

It’s likely that Koivu will actually even outperform his contract over the next few years – if you’re going to drop $50M on a player, it had better be one this good.

In other words, Koivu is worth it and then some. So how do so many fans fall asleep at the wheel on him? Chances are, if you didn’t know about Mikko Koivu before you do now. For my money, and for what the Wild do and how they seem to operate he’s worth every penny.

Home-grown guy? Check. One of the better players in the NHL? Check. Plays both sides of the puck well? Check. The only thing that Mikko Koivu is lacking that’s preventing him from being the next governor of Minnesota is being from Minnesota himself. To those of you fretting over this deal saying it’s a “comparison-buster” and other guys will use this deal as a starting point in future negotiations, you can just stop that right now.  There are very few players in the NHL that do what Mikko Koivu can do and do it well enough to be a first line talent.

  1. Andy - Jul 16, 2010 at 11:54 AM

    So Gaborik doesn’t count here?? I think he’s a pretty good winger.
    But for the record, I do believe that he is worth every penny, and was truly hoping he’d reach the FA Market after this season.

  2. Alex - Jul 16, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    Yes a bit overpaid … but I do not take anything away from Mikko in that regard he is one of the best 10/15 forwards in the NHL. I just dont think anyone aside from the Ovechkins/Crosby’s of the world should get this amount. (And no not much more even for them)

  3. Joe - Jul 16, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    A great two way player is worth the money. Look at Dats and Z in Detroit. Goals, assists, checking- they are worth the money. Look at how Z owns Crosby when they play (and crosby having a trantrum because of it).

  4. Josh - Jul 16, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    I was not aware that candidates for governor in MN actually had to be from there, as opposed to just being residents.

  5. ThatGuy - Jul 18, 2010 at 12:42 AM

    Gaborik very rarely played on a line with Koivu. LeMaire liked to seperate his talent on different lines. Koivu has generally been with Bruno and Meitennen for the last 3 years.

  6. Alyssa Hickman - Jul 18, 2010 at 10:26 PM

    Being a Habs fan I am tempted to compare Mikko Koivu to [Tomas] Plekanec; both players being 70-point, defensive forwards. He is somewhat better than Plekanec in some aspects, leadership being one. Plekanec is paid $5M/year for six years; I estimated Koivu to be worth $5.75M/year rather than $6.75M/year.

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