By the numbers, 23-year-old Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand had an impressive season — 21 goals and 20 assists in 77 games — followed by a star-making postseason, scoring 19 points in 25 playoff games and earning both his name on the Stanley Cup and the right to dance semi-nude in celebration of it.
But when it comes to the restricted free agent's contract, the real issue is the value of intangibles.
It's not that he scores goals, it's when he scores them — please recall the unassisted shorty in Game 3 of the Final that ignited the 8-1 rout. It's not that he pisses off opponents, it's how he pisses them off — whether it's a well-timed hit or six punches to the face of a Hart candidate.
So what's that worth? It's something the Bruins and Marchand's agent are still trying to figure out.
The Boston Globe offered some comparables to Marchand based on players of similar age (if less accomplishment) and the money they've received:
High: James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia, six years, $25.5 million.
Middle: Logan Couture, San Jose, two years, $5.75 million.
Low: Nathan Gerbe, Buffalo, three years, $4.3 million.
It's tough to decipher the van Riemsdyk contract, if only because the Flyers were clearly paying for potential that Marchand doesn't have (that of a top-line sniper) and because the contract goes for six seasons (outside of the Marc Savard, avoiding-UFA-status deal, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli typically keeps the terms shorter).
On the other end, Marchand's a better player, and projects to be a more productive player, than Gerbe — especially with the accomplishments he already has in the postseason.
That leaves Couture as the parallel, and the Globe believes that's where Marchand's contact is headed:
Using the three as comparables, Marchand should come in slightly under Couture. Expect a two-year, $5 million contract.
Playoff production for a championship team can be a strong influence on contracts; look no further than what Antti Niemi ended up receiving from an arbitrator before the Chicago Blackhawks jettisoned him last summer.
It's not unreasonable to believe that a player who finished third in postseason scoring and second in postseason goals for a Cup team can't seek a considerable raise. The Globe sees it at $2.5 million; Marchand asking for an annual hit of $2.7 or $2.8 million doesn't seem outlandish and the Bruins have the cap space to accommodate it.
Jimmy Murphy of ESPN Boston, however, thinks it's best if Marchand accepts a lower-end offer from the B's:
Brad Marchand cannot become a UFA until he is 26 years old. To be honest, if he wants to hit paydirt then, he best settle for less right now. True, he was a major part of the Bruins' Cup run and was a solid player, but it was one season. He needs to sign a deal before camp and show he can do this on a consistent basis. He is not going to get the deal he wants right now, and if he holds out, he will hurt himself and the team.
No kidding. Hey, there's a surefire way to squander the good vibes and good will of a Cup title run! We know he's a masterful pest, but we can't see Marchand tinkling in his own Cinnamon Toast Crunch like that. One imagines he'll sign before camp — but for how much?