August 04, 2011
If the Los Angeles Kings can be happy about anything in their summer-long negotiation with restricted free-agent defenseman Drew Doughty(notes), it's that they haven't been accused of being an unworthy market for a Canadian-born star. There's been no "does Stamkos reeeeeally like Tampa Bay?" or "does Weber reeeeeeally like Nashville?" talk. Must be the Gretzky thing.
That said, the fact that Doughty's still unsigned after Shea Weber(notes) won a $7.5 million salary from the Nashville Predators in arbitration may not be a good thing for GM Dean Lombardi's bottom line.
The speculation has always been that Doughty and his reps were waiting to see if Weber established a new ceiling for RFA defensemen. (Forget the $10 million salary for Christian Ehrhoff(notes) this season, which is unrestricted free agent/cap circumventing nonsense.) Whether that's accurate or not, the fact remains that Weber is now the highest paid defenseman in the League (via his cap hit), and that could raise the price tag for other elite defensemen.
But will it affect Doughty contract extension with the Kings?
"I think (Weber's contract) gives you some evidence, but even he's different because he's a year from (unrestricted) free agency," Lombardi said. "That's one of the hard parts you've got here - there's not a lot of defensemen, other than Dion Phaneuf(notes), Duncan Keith(notes), there hasn't been a lot - a lot of these top young kids who have gotten top dollar, most of them are forwards. You've got a big hole in the market of what defensemen are (worth). You could even say (Keith) Yandle, there's a similarity in numbers but he's older than Drew. So he's not totally analagous. You could say Weber - but he's older, he's one year away.
"So is it relevant? Yes, but it's a question of how much weight you really give it. You've got a lot of these things that are out there, throw in the fact that the CBA is going to be up ... you've got all of these little issues, piece in how much weight you give each one, then put it all together."
Bobby Scribe of the Kings blog Surly and Scribe doesn't believe one salary will influence the other; that the marketplace is what determines the wage. From Surly:
Only the "market" does that and that market includes other contracts, with specific multi-year terms, for reasonably comparable players at or about the same age. If the years go up, then the cap hit must come down, at least in this circumvention by any other name era. Are any of those in the $7.5 million dollar range? No.
Brian Campbell(notes) is an abortion inducing $7.14 million dollar cap hit. I don't think Campbell's contract is an example of anything other than one of the dumbest in league history. Zdeno Chara(notes), age 34, is at $6.9 million. Comparable? I hear he was paid by the inch. Jay Bouwmeester(notes) at $6.68 million: That contract may be an example of how paying too much, too soon may ruin the player. I just turned around to see if Dean Lombardi whispered that in my ear.
No need to go further down the list. Why? Because the LA Kings offered Drew "more than" $6.5 million dollars for 9 years. Therefore, Dean Lombardi has told Don Meehan and Mark Guy he believes Drew's market value to be at or "more than" (if I recall the article quote correctly) $6.5 million.
That's the number Helene Elliott of the LA Times reported on Doughty, with a 9-year term.
Ah, yes: term. Weber went to team-elected arbitration with the Predators because the sides couldn't agree on any aspect of a long-term contract framework. He's two years away from unrestricted free agency, one year away from potentially getting an offer sheet. Nashville wants him long-term; Weber wants to wait and see.
Eric Stephens of Ducks Blog thinks contract length is the key with Doughty, rather than dollars:
The 21-year-old blue-liner, whom many suspect could win a Norris himself one day, will make a lot of money whether his new contract comes in at that amount, above that or perhaps below. But the dollar figure might not be the only factor in those negotiations.
Don't forget that Doughty might not necessarily want to be tied up that long. Ryan, who's also represented by Newport's Don Meehan and Mark Guy, had looked at a shorter-term deal with the Ducks that would take him to arbitration-eligible status or unrestricted free agency before going beyond and committing to five years.
Under the current CBA terms, Doughty can become a UFA after four more seasons and will be only 25 as he'll have seven years of league service under his belt.
In the end, Randy Holt from Rant Sports probably has it right: Doughty's salary will be closer to that of Dion Phaneuf in his second NHL contact ($6.5 million) than what was handed to Weber by an arbitrator. It's just a matter of when and for how long.