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Ryan Getzlaf’s 8-year, $66-million contract with Anaheim Ducks: Good move or bad business?

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It was going to take a significant contract offer to keep Ryan Getzlaf with the Anaheim Ducks, as the 27-year-old captain faced unrestricted free agency next summer as a coveted No. 1 center.

On Friday, the Ducks re-signed him, and boy howdy was it a bald, er, bold move: 8 years with an average salary cap hit of $8.25 million, or a $66 million deal.

From the Ducks:

The Ducks have signed captain Ryan Getzlaf to an eight-year contract extension. The 2007 Stanley Cup champion and 2010 Olympic gold medalist is now under contract with the Ducks through the 2020-21 NHL season. Per club policy, no financial terms of the deal were disclosed.

“We are very happy to have Ryan committed to this franchise long-term,” said Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray. “He has often expressed his interest to stay in Anaheim for his entire career, a goal we share. He is a leader, a proven winner, and possesses a skill set that’s hard to find. This is a great day for the Ducks.”

Getzlaf, 27 (5/10/85), has appeared in 534 career NHL games with the Ducks, scoring 146-353=499 points with a +77 rating and 504 penalty minutes (PIM). Named the eighth captain in Ducks history on Oct. 3, 2010, Getzlaf ranks third among all-time franchise leaders in points and assists, fifth in goals and power-play goals (55), fourth in game-winning goals (25), second in plus/minus and sixth in appearances. Getzlaf has also scored 18-35=53 points with 85 PIM in 62 career postseason games. He leads the club in all-time playoff assists, ranks second in scoring and tied for second in goals. Getzlaf led the 2007 champions in postseason scoring with 7-10=17 points, setting a Ducks record for most points in a single playoff season.

“I’m extremely thankful to the Samuelis, Michael Schulman, Bob Murray and the entire Ducks organization for the opportunity to remain in Anaheim for the long-term,” said Getzlaf. “This is a wonderful day for my family, as Anaheim has become our home. The fans here have treated me very well, and I look forward to being part of a winning hockey team and contributing to the Orange County community for years to come.”

So is this a shrewd move to ensure the Ducks are contenders for years to come, or is this just bad business?

He bounced back from a significant offensive decline last season with a strong 2013. From the LA Times:

What's behind the turnaround?

Selanne recently hinted that it's because Getzlaf is in the final year of his contract. But Corey Perry, Getzlaf's longtime right wing and friend, said there's more to it.

"When you're playing a game you love and that you've grown up playing, your compete level is high. You know what you did the year before, and if you didn't have a great year you want to prove the critics wrong and show everybody you can be that top player," said Perry, who's also eligible for free agency this summer.

"I think he's trying to prove he can be that top player everybody knows."

Getzlaf’s previous deal paid him $26.625 million over 5 years.

This new deal gives Getzlaf, for the moment, the fourth-highest cap hit in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin ($9.538 million), Evgeni Malkin ($8.7 million), Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million) and tied with Eric Staal ($8.25 million).

We say “at the moment” because there’s another significant piece to this puzzle for the Anaheim Ducks, and his name is Corey Perry.

Perry, like Getzlaf was scheduled to become, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He could command more money on the open market -- $9 million per season?; or, perhaps, the Ducks find a way to keep him, too for the money Getzlaf just received.

Eric Stephens of the OC Register, on Perry: "Perry said Getzlaf being here long term could be a factor but decision won't be made on that."

From Helene Elliott:

Cap Geek projects the Ducks had $19.4 million in cap space for next season, with Getzlaf’s contract and with 15 players signed. If they get Perry for that same deal, it would slice their cap space in half and with a few significant moves – addressing Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu and Kyle Palmieri, for example – left to make.

Assuming the Ducks trade Jonas Hiller ($4.5 million hit), that could be even more cap space open. Yes, they’ve been a spendthrift team; but from a cap perspective, they could bring back Perry next season.

Could, but probably won’t, which is an issue when it comes to Getzlaf: How much of his success can be attributed to his running mate Perry? We could be witnessing Shea Weber sans Ryan Suter, but on a grander offensive scale next season. (This is assuming you think Perry is a better player than Getzlaf at this stage of their careers, in which case you’d be correct.)

The Ducks can feel some pride that they didn’t have to suffer the indignity of watching both Getzlaf and Perry jet this summer; that their money’s still good; and that retaining him through 2021 gives the appearance of a franchise ready to contend for the next decade without missing a beat, which is important when you're trying to attract free agents.

Is it a shrewd move or bad business? A lot of that depends on GM Bob Murray.

How he addresses Perry. How he addressed the other contracts for the Ducks with Getzlaf having established the ceiling. How he builds a team around a point-per-game center, at least until his statistic decline in his 30s.

Two thoughts:

1. This contract is the way of the world in the new NHL. With term limits ending the cap circumvention of previous deals – like Zach Parise’s last summer – homegrown stars like Getzlaf were going to get the max term (8 years) and a higher cap hit. We’ll see this again and again.

So while most of the hockey world is going apoplectic about this cap hit, don’t blame the Ducks – blame the CBA their owns lobbied for during the lockout.

2. Free agent class of Summer 2014: Evgeni Malkin, Thomas Vanek, Joe Thornton, Pavel Datsyuk, two guys named Sedin; the following summer, it’s Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Bobby Ryan. And Ryan Getzlaf, and subsequently Corey Perry, will have set their bar. Ante up, NHL!

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