Tuesday, September 12, 2006

You Can't Legislate Stupidity (part 2)

From TSN.ca:

The Philadelphia Flyers have signed Vancouver Canucks restricted free agent forward Ryan Kesler to an offer sheet. Sources tell TSN the deal is worth $1.9 million for one season.

The Vancouver Canucks have seven days to match this offer, but sources have told TSN it is absolutely certain the Vancouver Canucks will match the offer sheet.

I don't know what's sillier. That Bobby Clarke thinks Kesler is worth $1.9 million per season or that Dave Nonis, after an offseason of posturing, is actually matching the offer.
In fairness to everyone involved:

  1. Bobby Clarke was well within the rules to send the offer sheet. (Though this doesn't make him less of an ass for doing so. See Jes Gőlbez for a more colorful way of saying this.)
  2. It would have been silly for Ryan Kesler not to sign it. (I know if someone offered to double my current salary, I'd sign in a second.)
  3. Even if it pushes the Canucks closer to the cap, Dave Nonis can't let one of the team's few NHL-ready prospects walk away over a relatively-small $1 million.
Fairness aside however, Clarke has now re-set the market for future restricted free agents:

Here's how the impact will be felt.

In Vancouver, the Canucks presented Kesler with a qualifying offer of $564,000, which is what his base salary was for last season. Extending that offer to Kesler protected the Canucks' rights to the player. Kesler's agent Kurt Overhardt and Nonis have been negotiating a two-year that would pay Kesler $825,000 this season and $850,000 next season. By all accounts, that negotiation was close to being complete when the Flyer offer sheet materialized on Tuesday.

The Canucks have a seven-day period to match the offer or take the compensation in the form of the second-round draft pick. But if they match the offer, and there's seemingly no doubt that they will, they cannot trade Kesler for a period of one year and must pay him a salary of $1.9 million, which is more than double what they expected to.

But the impact league-wide could be significant.

If the Canucks want to hold onto Kesler at the end of this season, they must extend him a qualifying offer of $1.9 million. That qualifying offer can be used as a comparable by other Group 2 players who file for salary arbitration.

''So the going rate for a young 10-goal scorer in this league is going to $1.9 million,'' an NHL GM said. ''We're starting a whole new inflation spiral. It's going to cost every team in this league. It's bad for all us. It's really bad business.''
A 10-goal scorer coming out of his rookie season and with absolutely no leverage.

Somewhere in Edmonton, Lupul is probably wishing he waited an extra day to sign his contract; somewhere in Russia, Zherdev is telling Doug McLean to shove his latest offer up you-know-where.

Earl Sleek of The Battle of California puts it nicely:

... I don’t particularly care about the specific player or the teams, it certainly is a disturbing omen of things to come. This ability for RFAs to gain leverage in holding out will certainly make it more expensive to hold young talent.
Cue Tom Benjamin. (Hello Tom. Waiting for you to weigh in on this issue. Thanks.)

Where does that leave the Canucks?

Assuming Nonis indeed matches the offer and doesn't trade anyone from the roster, the team will begin the season in the same salary cap situation as last year - very close to it. If the Canucks choose to carry 21 players, they'll start the season with approximately $42.9 million commited to the cap; if the Canucks choose to carry 22 players, their amount commited to the cap will be closer to $43.5 million - so much for that $2 million cushion Nonis wanted.

Or should Nonis simply take the 2nd round draft pick and let Kesler go?

For at least the next couple of seasons, Brendan Morrison and Henrik Sedin will occupy the top two center spots on the team; unless Kesler's game dramatically improves in that time, he will most likely spend most of his time on the third line. And if there's anything the Canucks have an abundance of, it's third and fourth line forwards.

For now, Rick Rypien may be capable of filling that role; in a couple of seasons, Michael Grabner may be ready for full-time NHL duty. If Nonis is vindictive enough, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and RJ Umberger are free agents in a couple of seasons. I'm a big Kesler fan, but it's not like he's irreplacable.

Should he stay or should he go?

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 10:54 PM


At September 13, 2006 5:05 AM, Anonymous Steve Jamieson said...

I have always hated Bobby Clarke for several things he said and done. Remember that he put another huge top prospect "Lindros" throught he ringer. We all know what happened there.

I am not sure if Vancouver should or shouldn't sign Kessler. But like you put it. A top prospect NHL ready who is a 3rd liner.

I say keep him, because unfortunally this will be the end of the Morrison/Naslund line, and I really believe that Kessler will see some time up there.

At September 13, 2006 7:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We already have Chouinard for 3rd line. Kesler: go away. then, sign Carter (2M).

At September 13, 2006 8:09 AM, Blogger Jeremy said...

Great summary...such a disappointing turn of events after rumours that he was going to sign in the next couple of days.

At September 13, 2006 8:28 AM, Blogger Loxy said...

I question whether or not this will set a precedence for 10 goal scorers.

Clarke saw a team with a difficulty to stay under the cap, and he forced a decision upon Nonis. I'm sure Clarke thinks he's overpaying for Kesler, but by gaining his rights for one year he might get some reasonably priced years in the future.

Goalies aren't going to expect to get 15 year contracts from here on out.. and unless there is lots of other ridiculous signings (I guess I can't write this off yet) than this situation will look as it is... a RFA offer sheet. The environment for it to happen is much different from the rest of hockey negotiations.

At September 13, 2006 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy crap....bad news for GM's around the league

At September 13, 2006 1:53 PM, Blogger John Bollwitt said...

I would like to see Kesler stay. The guy has some mad speed, and that goes a long way for me. Sure, we might be ok if he takes off, but I think he was strength to build on for the coming season.

At September 13, 2006 6:56 PM, Anonymous Richard X said...

I hope Kesler stays. We need someone with his speed to generate some offense. Hopefully he can register a few more than last year. I think we'll need all the help we can get on offense. Go Canucks!

At September 13, 2006 8:52 PM, Blogger hoopsjunky said...

No, not all 10-goal scorers are going to expect $1.9 million, but I think we can expect more RFA's, especially those with the same potential as Kesler and coming out of their entry-level contracts, to use this contract as a comparable.

This would be similar to Jarrett Stoll getting $1.9 million after his 10-goal season in 2004. Would the Oilers have given him that money, not because he's produced already, but because he has the potential to produce?

I'm quite torn on this myself. If we were somewhat guaranteed that Kesler would have a breakthrough season - much like Stoll had last year - then I match it. If given the opportunity, he has the potential to do so.

If he is going to used in mostly a third-line role this season, I'd be more hesitant to match. Why would I spend at least $3.8 million for a third-line player?

If I'm looking for a top-six guy, not this season but for two seasons from now, I'd be more tempted to take the draft pick and see what's out there two seasons from now.

Like I mentioned, we have Grabner in the system. Hansen is a possiblity. So would be the kids from Philly and even Anaheim.

*sigh* Stupid Bobby Clarke.


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