Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving has done a lot this offseason, but one thing still on his checklist is to sign his two budding superstars, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau.
Working in Calgary’s favour is the fact that both players are RFAs, and at least Monahan has publicly expressed his desire to play in Calgary for years to come.
— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) July 19, 2016
Still, coming to terms on a contract is no easy task, especially when it involves multiple years and millions of dollars. There are a lot of moving parts.
One major thing that plays into negotiations is past precedent. That is, looking at the past contracts of other similar players to help gauge the value of the player in question.
That’s why with every day that passes, and with every new contract given out, the landscape for the Monahan/Gaudreau negotiations shifts.
So how are the recent contracts handed to players like Filip Forsberg, Mark Scheifele, and even Steven Stamkos impacting the Flames’ contract negotiations?
Since the 2015-16 season came to an end, players like Forsberg, Scheifele, and Nathan Mackinnon have all landed long-term, big money contracts. This is important because all three of these players are of similar age and have had similar production levels to Monahan thus far in the NHL.
MacKinnon – $6.3M×7
Barkov – $5.9M×6
Scheifele – $6.125M×8
Forsberg – $6M×6
I think we know what ballpark Monahan is playing in.
— Tyler (@akaRCN) July 8, 2016
Monahan has the most goals (80) and the most points (159) of those players listed, but he also has the most games played (237).
Having so many contracts all in the same range in both term and dollar amount makes it pretty easy to gauge Monahan’s value. The Flames should be looking at a minimum of $6 million for their 21-year-old center, and be prepared to spend up to $6.5 million annually, depending on the contract’s term.
Unlike Monahan, Gaudreau doesn’t have very many comparables in the NHL. There just aren’t too many 22-year-olds scoring at a point-per-game pace right now. In fact, Gaudreau is the only one.
The only player who could be considered a comparable would be 24-year-old Vladimir Tarasenko, who happened to sign an 8-year deal worth $7.5 million annually last summer. Gaudreau will likely be commanding something in that range as well.
One other thing to consider is that if the Monahan/Gaudreau deals are not done at the same time, then the first contract signed will likely play into the negotiations for the second.
Blowing up the bridge
A common theme with a lot of the deals signed this summer has been an increasing desire to skip the bridge deal (shorter term for smaller dollar amount) and going right into long-term deals.
Look around the league and you can see why this is happening. Tyler Seguin, John Tavares, and Erik Karlsson all signed long-term deals early and are now at very friendly cap hits for their respective teams.
Not that there was much speculation of Monahan or Gaudreau going the bridge route in the first place, but another offseason filled with long-term deals puts the chance of a bridge deal for either player at virtually zero.
The Stamkos effect
Before Stamkos signed to an eight-year deal worth $8.5 million each season, most speculated that Stamkos would be getting at least $10 million annually.
Killorn said Stamkos' signing sent a message for guys taking less AAV to stay. "It's something special in Tampa and guys want to come back."
— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) July 17, 2016
The discounted rate Stamkos settled for sends a message to the rest of the Tampa Bay Lightning that their players will prioritize winning over money. That’s a very valuable message in the salary cap era.
So the question is, could seeing Stamkos take a hometown discount inspire Monahan and Gaudreau to start the same thing in Calgary?
With future contracts eventually needed for guys like Sam Bennett, starting that trend now would pay huge dividends to the Flames’ ability to manage the cap in their cup contending years.