Skip to content

Four reasons why owners have been willing to sign players to long contracts

Dec 4, 2012, 2:36 PM EDT

Tyler Seguin Getty Images

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks took the NHL to task today, slamming the likes of Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and Jets owner Mark Chipman for signing players to six-year contracts right before the old CBA expired, then having the gall to demand five-year limits during current negotiations.

It wasn’t the first time the owners have been accused of hypocrisy, and the players are justifiably upset with the NHL’s demands. Nobody wants their employment freedoms restricted.

That said, there are good reasons owners have been willing to sign off on long-term deals.

Here are the four main ones:

1. Because the players are young. Tyler Seguin (six-year deal) is only 20. So is Taylor Hall (seven years). Evander Kane (six years) is 21 and Jordan Eberle (six years) is 22. All four are franchise players that will still be in their 20s when their contracts expire. For that reason, the NHL may be willing to soften its position on term limits for restricted free agents. Maybe it’s a six-year max, maybe it’s eight.

2. To reduce the cap hit. It’s the back-diving type of contract the NHL won’t allow to exist in a new CBA. The league should have addressed this loophole before it signed the last CBA, but there’s no point crying over spilled milk. Currently there are 16 players with contract lengths of 10 years or longer. Of those 16, only a handful signed with the expectation they’ll still be playing when their deals expire. Take Roberto Luongo’s 12-year, $64 million contract that’s set to expire when he’s 43. In reality, it’s only a nine-year deal; the last three years are for minimal salary. In hindsight, the Canucks probably shouldn’t have agreed to it, given they’re now trying to trade him and his contract is the biggest impediment to a deal. But looking back, without Luongo’s artificially lowered cap hit, they likely wouldn’t have been able to acquire Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre at the trade deadline prior to their run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2011. Both players were key additions that year.

3. To get the player. You can argue all day about the wisdom of Wild owner Craig Leipold for committing a combined $196 million to sign unrestricted free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise to identical 13-year deals this summer. But that was the market and it was the only way he could win the bidding war for their services. Again, you can question the wisdom of the deal, but Leipold felt he needed to make the investment to invigorate a fan-base that had grown tired of losing. Given there weren’t many Wild fans complaining, it’s hard to argue he failed in that regard.

4. To keep the player. See: Shea Weber, who forced Nashville’s hand when he inked a 14-year, $110 million ($58 million) offer sheet with the Flyers. The Predators had already lost Suter to free agency; they felt they couldn’t lose their other franchise defenseman. Was it smart? Guess we’ll find out. But like Suter and Parise, Weber was going to get big dollars and term wherever he ended up. For Nashville, it was either buck up or start rebuilding again. Suffice to say, Preds fans were glad ownership chose the first option.

For the NHL, demanding term limits on contracts is no different than demanding a salary cap. It’s being done to level the playing field and protect owners from themselves.

Latest Posts
  1. Video: ‘I got bumped the whole game,’ says Crawford

    May 22, 2015, 1:30 AM EDT

    Getty Images

    Ducks trying to make life miserable for Chicago’s goalie.

  2. Bylsma free to pursue any coaching gig, says Rutherford

    May 21, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT

    Bylsma

    Pittsburgh GM won’t stand in the way.

  3. Sabres GM Murray lauds ‘great’ process with Babcock, confirms no deal ever in place

    May 21, 2015, 6:10 PM EDT

    Tim Murray AP

    “To have a guy of his ilk, considered one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League, taking a real good hard look at us in Buffalo after a 30th-place finish — I thought the process was great.”

  4. B’s sign Finnish forward Kemppainen to one-year, $700K deal

    May 21, 2015, 5:26 PM EDT

    Joonas Kemppainen, Jan Laco Getty Images

    Two-way contract for Karpat’s playoff scoring sensation.

  5. Will Hitch be back? Blues still ‘going through the process’

    May 21, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Ken Hitchcock AP

    “It’s something that we’re working on everyday. We’re trying to do it behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny.”

  6. Milbury’s ‘tongue-in-cheek’ remarks about Perry discussed, says NBC exec (Video)

    May 21, 2015, 4:02 PM EDT

    Mike Milbury

    “Word choice matters, even when attempting to be humorous.”

  7. Report: Sabres get permission to interview Bylsma

    May 21, 2015, 2:44 PM EDT

    Dan Bylsma AP

    As many as six new head coaches could still be named.

  8. Versteeg ‘wants to play in the worst way’

    May 21, 2015, 1:46 PM EDT

    Nashville Predators v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Six Nashville Predators v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Six

    Some have wondered if he could replace goal-less Bryan Bickell.

  9. Babcock predicts ‘pain’ for Leafs, who are a ‘massive, massive challenge’

    May 21, 2015, 12:43 PM EDT

    Mike Babcock Mike Babcock

    “We need to create a safe environment for the players.”

Featured video

Babcock has his work cut out in Toronto
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. B. Boyle (1377)
  2. K. Versteeg (1359)
  3. R. Callahan (1340)
  4. P. Kane (1266)
  5. H. Lundqvist (1266)