More attention is placed on NHL player polls than NHL agent polls, because the player polls talk about the game itself - who’s the best forward? Why that’s Connor McDavid. Most complete player? Sidney Crosby, of course. Best mascot? The players agree with the fans - it’s Gritty, of course.
See? Important issues.
The PuckPedia Agent Poll has some behind the scenes information that is fairly illuminating. The opinions on working with younger players are interesting - can you imagine being 16 and signing a contract with a NHL agent? These guys can - there’s only two years before draft eligibility, after all. An increase in entry level pay is a recurrent theme, as is an earlier period for UFA eligibility.
Most hopefully of all, a full 80% of agents don’t believe that a lockout is looming in 2022 when the current CBA expires.
When the poll gets into the nitty gritty of negotiations for player contracts with GMs, it really starts to shine a light on the business side of things. PuckPedia asked the agents which GM is the most difficult to work with, and which GMs do they enjoy working with. Keep in mind that a lot goes into this. Hard to work with may range from “stubborn” to “drives a hard bargain.” An agent may enjoy working with a GM because he’s cordial and plugged into the process, or because he scatters money to the wind.
The agents have a lot of GMs that they enjoy working with, and after Kyle Dubas, they’re pretty evenly split on who will give their player the best deal. When it comes to who the toughest GM to work with is, it’s pretty solidly Lou Lamoriello (33%), to exactly no one’s surprise. He’s had a reputation for years for being a hard nosed negotiator. Ducks GM Bob Murray and Blues GM Doug Armstrong tie for second on the list with 14% of the vote.
Doug Armstrong hasn’t been tossing out jumbo contracts to players like he used to. Many contracts that he’s been involved in this season have been more than fair, for fourth liners and stars alike. The deal with Brayden Schenn to begin the season (eight years, $52 million) was a particularly solid signing for the team.
Did Schenn and his agent ask for more than $6.5 million a season? Probably. But Armstrong being hard-nosed is what got the team the best deal; it’s good to remember that Armstrong has to do what’s best for the team, not for his players’ pocketbooks. Once the upcoming postseason wraps up, Armstrong is going to have to sit down with Alex PIetrangelo’s agents, and it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to start from a value that’s more in line with what the team can do - and for the agents to come out asking the world.
It’s going to be a tough process to get them on the same page, but it’s doable - if that pesky salary cap doesn’t get in the way. Agents may want to walk in the room and walk out with a sweet deal for their client, but most GMs worth their salt won’t roll quite so easily.