Now that 2015’s training camp has opened, we’re basically into the final year of Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau’s entry-level contracts. In other words: these are the final cheap games they will ever play for the Flames, and then things will get pretty pricey.
Well, when you take into account some of the deals signed by young forwards in the same general grouping and stature of Monahan and Gaudreau, you can get an idea.
THE SUMMER DEALS
Jonathan Huberdeau signed yesterday, inking a two-year bridge contract with the Florida Panthers worth $3.25 million against the cap annually. The 22-year-old joins fellow youngsters Cody Eakin (24), Jakob Silfverberg (24), Marcus Johansson (24), Derek Stepan (25), Ryan O’Reilly (24) and Sean Couturier (22) in signing new deals over the summer.
Here’s a brief summary of who these guys are, how expensive they are, and how productive they are.
|Jonathan Huberdeau||FLA||22||196||113||0.576||$3.250 million (2 years)|
|Sean Couturier||PHI||22||287||118||0.411||$4.333 million (6 years)|
|Cody Eakin||DAL||24||237||107||0.451||$3.850 million (4 years)|
|Jakob Silfverberg||ANA||24||181||81||0.448||$3.750 million (4 years)|
|Marcus Johansson||WSH||24||345||186||0.539||$3.750 million (1 year)|
|Ryan O’Reilly||BUF||24||427||246||0.576||$7.500 million (7 years)|
|Derek Stepan||NYR||25||362||252||0.696||$6.500 million (6 years)|
Now, here’s Calgary’s dynamic duo:
- Johnny Gaudreau: 22 years old (he’ll be 23 next August). He’s already generated 65 points in 81 career games (in a season and a game, basically), so he has already out-scored Silfverberg. His points-per-game heading into this season is 0.802 – significantly higher than anybody who signed a deal this summer. Granted, his sample size is pretty small.
- Sean Monahan: 21 years old (when his deal expires). He’s amassed 96 points in 156 games for a points-per-game of 0.615. He has a larger sample size than Gaudreau, but a smaller point production per game.
And for the sake of putting their offensive production in the proper context, here’s a Player Usage Chart: easier assignments are towards the bottom right, tougher assignments towards the top left. The colour of the dot is a player’s Relative Corsi: the bluer, the better.
O’Reilly produces decent offensive numbers, but he’s also a possession beast and plays against the other team’s top guys. Combine that with a large sample size, a long-term deal makes complete sense. Stepan’s possession numbers are a bit worse than O’Reilly’s, but he produces offense more frequently.
The market? It’s more likely to pay for offense than anything else, but you do see possession factor in quite a bit, particularly recently. If you judge exclusive in terms of offense and ignore other factors, both Flames forwards should be getting even more than Stepan’s $6.5 million.
WHAT’S THE FLOOR?
Gaudreau and Monahan are very productive offensive players thus far. Compared to everybody else who got contracts this summer – even Ryan O’Reilly, who done got paid – they’re far and away better offensive players.
It’s hard to project a floor, because it’s hard to figure what either side wants. The Flames probably just want to lock them in for the long term: it gives them some cost certainty and probably gets the cap hit as low as they can feasibly get it – you’re basically splitting the difference between a shorter bridge deal and the more expensive deal they’d sign after it. And it gives Brad Treliving a solid core group signed long-term with manageable cap hits. If you figure that they’d get somewhere north of Ryan O’Reilly’s $7.5 million cap hit in their post-bridge contract – let’s say $8.5 million for argument’s sake – then maybe, just maybe, the Flames can get the deal done for around $6 million for each guy, but probably not for a term longer than 4 seasons. The main arguments for Flames management against high cap hits for Monahan and Gaudreau, right now, likely stem from each player’s (relatively) small sample size compared to the market. The challenge is figuring out what the sweet spot is for both sides to be comfortable with a lengthy deal.
SUM IT UP
Right now, I’d wager the absolute best-case-scenario for a contract for either guy is a cap hit of $5.5 million, and that’s if they’re okay with leaving money on the proverbial table. And that’s based on the deals signed this summer and the current production levels of Monahan and Gaudreau. If either guy increases his offensive production substantially this season, though, expect that figure to climb northward. Heck, maintaining their current torrid scoring paces also probably drives their prices up given the only issues with them are sample size concerns.
If you put a gun to my head, I’d guess they both sign for around $6.25 million per season for four years. That keeps their cap hits lower than Mark Giordano’s for a few years and puts them up for new deals when they’re 25 (Monahan) and 26 (Gaudreau), which still gives them room to really cash in at the end of these semi-bridge deals.
But I could be wrong, because regardless of what happens, these guys are good players and they’re going to be pricey to keep around. If we want an indication of how good a cap manager Brad Treliving is, I think we’ll get an indication based on what cap number he locks Monahan and Gaudreau in at.
Regardless, it’s gonna cost ’em.