Trending Topics is a column that looks at the week in hockey according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?
There are a lot of problems in the NHL today, not the least of which is the way teams give players contracts.
For a league that was so concerned about depressing player salaries and controlling spending just a few years ago, the money guys are getting these days is flat-out insane.
But you already knew that.
So how about a hand for general managers Peter Chiarelli and Doug Wilson?
In a summer fraught with unreasonable deals given to marginal players, Chiarelli and Wilson secured the services of effective if still-emerging players, beloved by local fans, for relative pittances that flew in the face of the current conventional NHL wisdom and successfully avoided two of the biggest pitfalls executives fall into in today's NHL.
It's long been the case that the reasonable second contract no longer exists in the NHL. Not for players people are quite familiar with, at any rate. Your James van Riemsdyks, your Tyler Myerses, your John Tavareses. Big-name players getting big-time money for big chunks of their careers, even if they haven't quite earned it with play on the ice. Promise is one thing, results another. And that doesn't matter to most GMs these days, because it simply isn't allowed to.
Wilson first, and Chiarelli on Wednesday, proved they are not your typical general managers. They locked up Logan Couture — he of the 32 goals last season for the San Jose Sharks — and Marchand — who was a surprise 40-point scorer as a rookie and came alive in the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup run — for contracts that will keep them restricted free agents under the team's control when they expire and, more importantly, keep their annual cap hits very, very affordable.
Interestingly, Chiarelli's final signing of the summer came in a week during which some talk about the oft-discussed "second contract" came to a head once again. Those in the know have indicated that one thing the League might try to do at the end of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement will be to limit the amount of money, or possibly number of years, guys leaving their entry-level deals could command from the teams that control their rights.
What a novel concept. That type of cost control used to be an agreed-upon-but-never-put-in-writing thing throughout the NHL (not unlike everyone consenting to not poach other teams' restricted free agents) until it was scuttled by a couple of horrible RFA offer sheets out of Edmonton.
The NHLPA might dig its heels in over this, of course, but at the end of the day, it's the right thing for the league and its players.
This is, apparently, not quite as much of a problem in Boston and San Jose. At least not these days. (Remember if you will that once-ludicrous three-year, $12.25 million contract to Milan Lucic? It looks… well it doesn't look great. It now looks reasonable. That in itself is a minor miracle.)
That Marchand could be had for an annual average value of $2.5 million a year, and Couture for $2.875 million per, shows both a willingness on the part of the players and their organizations to grow together while attempting to be reasonable about present value. Rare and refreshing in today's NHL, especially given that Chiarelli acknowledged the latter deal's influence on the one he helped to ink this week.
But what, I think, is more impressive, is that both GMs also ignored the siren's song toward which most of their counterparts seem all too eager to steer: overpaying for playoff performance.
Couture and Marchand were each strong contributors during their teams' runs to the Western Conference Finals and a Stanley Cup title, respectively. Couture had seven goals and 14 points in 19 postseason games as a 21-year-old, while Marchand had 11 goals and 19 points in 25 games at 22.
That they could not or did not use these performances to wrangle, let's say, Joel Ward money out of their respective teams shows that at least some amount of people in the hockey world still adhere to the idea that performing well in a small number of games shouldn't matter more just because those games happened in April, May or June.
Of course, it didn't hurt that the teams to which Marchand and Couture were re-signing are perpetual contenders in their respective conferences, and that the ability to continually compete for postseason glory probably carried more weight than the prospect of holding out and eventually being shipped off to Phoenix or Colorado for draft picks.
Just look at the comparables: Couture is currently a better player than van Riemsdyk and Marchand, despite putting up very similar numbers to the Flyers' new cornerstone, may be more valuable because of his added role as a supreme agitator. But still, it was Couture's deal, more or less, that Marchand eventually consented to instead of petulantly holding out until he got a deal that was closer to van Riemsdyk's in either term, compensation or, ideally for him, both.
Y'know, like Kyle Turris is currently doing for some hilarious and insane reason.
So kudos to Wilson and Chiarelli, the only two GMs in this league with their heads on straight when it came to giving out second contracts this summer.
And now a quick word on the league's social media policy
It's fine. It's going to change very little if anything. Relax.
Pearls of Biz-dom
We all know that there isn't a better Twitter account out there than that of Paul Bissonnette. So why not find his best bit of advice on love, life and lappers from the last week?
BizNasty on growing up: "And [for] those commenting about the Lego's in my last picture. Nobody doesn't like Lego's. They are like Pavel Datsyuk, you can't not like him."
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