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Tarasenko's Contract

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Do the Blues have the cap space to sign Vladimir Tarasenko?

Vladimir Tarasenko
Vladimir Tarasenko
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

It's not too early for Blues fans to get worked up about this. Salary data is from CapGeek.com. The Group 2 Free Agent Compensation Chart is from NHL.com. I started on this before Bobrovsky signed with the Blue Jackets, which was January 9, so the stats for Tarasenko are a little out of date.

Before I get too far into this, I want to note that this is almost certainly the last article I will write using data from CapGeek. It's been a great resource and it will be sorely missed.

Cap Projection

In early December, at the NHL Board of Governors meetings, Gary Bettman estimated the 2015-16 cap to be at $73 million. Given the weak Canadian dollar, newer projections have the cap staying at $69 million.


Where the Blues stand

The Blues have 15 players signed and $56.3m committed. Among the forwards, Tarasenko, Goc, Lindstrom, and Porter are unsigned. The latter three make $2.6m this season. Better replacements can be found at that price (although I would keep Goc at his current $1.2m or less). Holding off on Tarasenko, that leaves 18 players signed and about $59m committed.

On defense, Jackman, Cole, Butler are unsigned. Cole is a RFA. Cole will be back at a small raise. A Butler level defenseman will be signed for Butler level money. For now, let's assume Jackman comes back at the same price. 22 players, $64m.

Jake Allen is a RFA. A quality UFA backup can be signed for $1m or less. I certainly would not pay Allen more than that. 22 players, $65m.

So, without trading anyone off the current roster, if the cap stays at $69m, the Blues have about $4m in cap space for Tarasenko.

Tarasenko

Tarasenko just turned 23. He signed his ELC at age 20 and will have 3 years professional experience as defined by the CBA, so he will be a Group 2 RFA. He will be eligible for offer sheets from other NHL clubs.

At the point I started this article, he had played 139 NHL games with 51 goals and 50 assists. That's 0.367 goals per game and 0.727 points per game.

Production Value

Hockey Reference uses "goals created" to measure skaters. Tarasenko in his 2+ seasons has 7, 17, and 22 so far this year. Crosby led the league last year at 37.

I've talked about Tom Awad's GVT in the past. Tarasenko's first two seasons were +2.2 and +13.2 GVT. Back of the envelope calculation has this year at about +18 GVT so far.

THoR has Tarasenko at 1.3 Wins Above Replacement in 2012-13 and 2.38 WAR last season. At 6 goals per win, that's 7.8 and 14.3 GVR. 1.3 wins (or 7.8 goals) is an overestimate of his rookie season. For some reason, the THoR tables for 2012-13 include the first two-and-a-half months of the 2013-14 season.

NHL Comparables

Name

Age

Team

Length

Position

Start

Expiry

Salary

Cap Hit

O'Reilly, Ryan

23

COL

2

Center

2014

2016

$5,800,000

$6,000,000

Hall, Taylor

23

EDM

7

Wing

2013

2020

$6,000,000

$6,000,000

Duchene, Matt

23

COL

5

Center

2014

2019

$5,500,000

$6,000,000

Eberle, Jordan

24

EDM

6

Wing

2013

2019

$6,000,000

$6,000,000

N.-Hopkins, R.

21

EDM

7

Center

2014

2021

$6,000,000

$6,000,000

Seguin, Tyler

22

DAL

6

Wing

2013

2019

$5,500,000

$5,750,000

Skinner, Jeff

22

CAR

6

Wing

2013

2019

$6,000,000

$5,725,000

Johansen, Ryan

22

CBJ

3

Center

2014

2017

$3,000,000

$4,000,000

Name

Games

Goals

Assists

Points

GPG

PPG

O'Reilly, Ryan

382

80

132

212

0.209

0.555

Hall, Taylor

278

102

146

248

0.367

0.892

Duchene, Matt

374

115

169

284

0.307

0.759

Eberle, Jordan

312

103

139

242

0.330

0.776

N.-Hopkins, R.

218

52

104

156

0.239

0.716

Seguin, Tyler

319

118

131

249

0.370

0.781

Skinner, Jeff

292

105

96

201

0.360

0.688

Johansen, Ryan

224

57

71

128

0.254

0.571

A couple of things are apparent. Tarasenko's numbers fit into these tables pretty well except nearly everyone of these players has played 2-3 times the number of games. Fewer games means more uncertainty. That usually means a salary discount. The other is the term of these deals. Only O'Reilly and Johansen have purely RFA contracts. The others extend into UFA years.

These long term RFA contracts that overpay in the RFA years in return for an expected discount in the UFA years are, in my opinion, a terrible bet for the team. Army, to his credit, has not shown any inclination to offer these type of deals.

Blues Comparables

Name

Age

Year

Cap Hit

Total Cap

Percent Cap

Backes

24

2008

2.5

56.7

4.41

Perron

22

2010

2.15

59.4

3.62

Oshie

24

2011

2.35

64.3

3.65

Berglund

23

2011

2.25

64.3

3.50

Schwartz

22

2014

2.35

69

3.41

Name

Games

Goals

Assists

Points

GPG

PPG

Backes

121

23

31

54

0.190

0.446

Perron

225

48

76

124

0.213

0.551

Oshie

182

44

77

121

0.242

0.665

Berglund

228

56

69

125

0.246

0.548

Schwartz

132

34

38

72

0.258

0.545

Compared to the other Blues, Tarasenko has produced goals and points at substantially higher rates.

Offer Sheets

Tarasenko would be eligible for offer sheets. First, the compensation table for Group 2 Free Agents:

GROUP 2 COMPENSATION CHART

OFFER SHEET COMPENSATION

$1,110,249 or below None

Over $1,110,249 to $1,682,194 Third Round

Over $1,682,194 to $3,364,391 Second Round

Over $3,364,391 to $5,046,585 First Round and Third Round

Over $5,046,585 to $6,728,781 First Round, Second Round, and Third Round

Over $6,728,781 to $8,410,976 Two First Rounds, Second Round, and Third Round

Over $8,410,976 Four First Rounds

Remember that for purposes of compensation, the annual cap hit is defined as the total value of the contract divided by the number of years on the contract or five, whichever is less. Meaning a 7 year, $42m contract is $42m/5 = $8.4m for the purpose of calculating compensation. So who will have cap space? At the time I pulled this data, teams had the following committed in 2015-16 (this is before Columbus signed Bobrovsky):

Team

Salary Payroll

Cap Payroll

Bonuses

Cap Space

Roster

$/Opening

Philadelphia Flyers "

66183690

67179762

212500

1820238

18

364048

Tampa Bay Lightning "

68829405

65122143

3506667

3877857

20

1292619

Chicago Blackhawks "

77458333

64988462

0

4011538

14

445726

Minnesota Wild "

63022500

61041340

177500

7958660

17

1326443

Los Angeles Kings "

66800000

61014394

0

7985606

15

998201

Colorado Avalanche "

59510000

59535595

2850000

9464405

23

0

Montreal Canadiens "

56375000

58045833

541667

10954167

16

1564881

Detroit Red Wings "

63654167

57302879

224167

11697121

19

2924280

Pittsburgh Penguins "

59722500

56479167

1250000

12520833

16

1788690

St. Louis Blues "

57388452

56372500

121667

12627500

15

1578438

Boston Bruins "

55367500

55627976

165833

13372024

13

1337202

Vancouver Canucks "

56865433

55094167

850000

13905833

14

1545093

Carolina Hurricanes "

53707500

53335833

1482500

15664167

14

1740463

Winnipeg Jets "

56340000

53045357

1730000

15954643

17

2659107

Toronto Maple Leafs "

60051548

52702500

850000

16297500

13

1629750

Ottawa Senators "

54257500

52606667

475000

16393333

17

2732222

Columbus Blue Jackets "

53307500

51821310

3190833

17178690

18

3435738

San Jose Sharks "

54715000

51527500

590833

17472500

15

2184063

Edmonton Oilers "

52507500

51456667

2825000

17543333

15

2192917

Washington Capitals "

49832500

49735128

400000

19264872

14

2140541

Dallas Stars "

51780833

49585000

1200000

19415000

16

2773571

Florida Panthers "

52008108

48946208

5732500

20053792

17

3342299

Anaheim Ducks "

48440000

47892500

850000

21107500

17

3517917

New Jersey Devils "

49006667

46908333

342500

22091667

14

2454630

Calgary Flames "

47475833

46854167

1932500

22145833

16

3163690

New York Rangers "

53855556

46675000

2850000

22325000

12

2029545

New York Islanders "

52607500

44549643

850000

24450357

16

3492908

Nashville Predators "

45845000

38405476

2866667

30594524

12

2781320

Arizona Coyotes "

41085278

38344444

284167

30655556

14

3406173

Buffalo Sabres "

39061865

35892500

2175000

33107500

13

3310750

The falling Canadian dollar and the (likely) static salary cap means two important things. First, teams are not going to have as much cap space as they may have projected. Second, several teams (Chicago) are going to have to dump veteran talent to fit under the cap.

KHL

The KHL is a wild card in all this. On the one hand, the Ruble makes the Loonie look like gold bullion. On the other hand, who knows what some Russian oligarch might wave at him. The KHL does have a salary cap that works out to about $17m a team but some owners are looking to reduce it further..

Contract options – 1 year deal with performance bonus

A huge advantage to this type of contract is that the cap hit of the bonus would get delayed to 2016-17. A $3m base salary with $1-2m in bonuses for goals scored fits him under the cap in 2015-16 without any other roster moves. The down side is that his bonus would reduce the cap space available in 2016-17.

Bridge contract

Tarasenko would be a RFA until age 27, so a 2 or 3 year contract would be a bridge deal. Armstrong and the Blues have preferred to use this type of deal. More years would probably mean a higher AAV which would be harder to fit under the 2015-16 cap. One possible way around this is a lower base salary with signing bonuses for the second (or second and third) years.

Long term deal

This would be uncharted territory for Army and the Blues. Presumably the AAV would be higher than the available $4m, which would mean the Blues would have to make some cap space.

Finding cap space

Barrett Jackman

Jackman makes $3.25m this season and is a UFA next season. $3m is a pretty cap friendly number for Jax. If they can sign him for that I hope they do. Replacing him with one of the prospects (Lindbohm or Hakanpaa) saves about $2.5m.

Steve Ott

Grossly overpaid (pun intended) at $2.6m, signed for next season. It's hard for me to imagine that anyone would see Ott as an asset worth acquiring at that price. Then again, the Penguins did trade for Lapierre. Ott level production is available for $1m or less. That would free up $1.6m or so.

Patrik Berglund

Bergy makes $3.7m for the next two seasons. Berglund can probably be moved this summer for future assets and be replaced by Rattie or Fabbri. That would save about $2.8m

AAV and required moves

At an AAV of $4m or less, no roster changes have to be made.

At an AAV of $5m, parting with any one of Jackman, Ott, or Berglund frees enough cap space.

At an AAV of $6m, you would have to lose Jackman or move Berglund.

At an AAV of $7m, you need to part with at least 2 of the three.