Look at these two. They are so happy together. Who cares what they want, just sign them both to matching billion dollar contracts. In fact, how about they are co-player coaches for next season?
I think it’s pretty safe to assume that if you are a fan of the Flames at this moment (bless you, hang in there), you are probably a fan of these two gents. Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau are two of the most exciting Flames draft picks in franchise history, and both are only beginning their NHL careers. Huzzah! How fun!
However, they must be paid according to their burgeoning star-power and are both restricted free agents this summer. The Flames are faced with a difficult question: do they try to sign the two as a pair or negotiate separately? We’re going to hash this out and hear what you have to say after the jump!
WHAT WERE THE NUMBERS?
First off, we can all agree that the Flames want Monahan and Gaudreau to stick around very long term, as the two players represent a core of roughly six players that the Flames are trying to rebuild around. However, the next contracts given to these players represent a very important time for the Flames, as the money allocated to these core players affects the way that the team can build around them.
Also, I would like to point out that I am not terribly fond of people intimating that is it incumbent on either Johnny or Monahan to take less money than they are worth, simply so that the Flames are able to sign players like Joe Colborne and Lance Bouma. Simply put: the best players deserve to be compensated and the Flames have had a poor record of overpaying players for nebulous reasons that have led to the salary cap crunch that they are in for next season.
With that said, let’s get into whether or not the Flames should sign the two of them to matching deals this summer. The obvious answer is: yes! Twelve years at $3.5 million please! Very funny. The crux of the problem is that saying yes to a matching deal for both players means that Monahan will be getting the same amount as Gaudreau, and there is substantial evidence to suggest that Johnny should be getting seriously paid on his next deal.
As was previously referenced in Ari’s Monahan evaluation piece earlier today, here is Monahan’s WOWY chart this season (from the good folks at Corsica). Pay special attention to the section with Johnny Gaudreau and notice the rather sad-looking green balloon near the bottom of the chart:
So, as Ari mentioned in her piece, this isn’t exactly great news for those wanting the Flames to hand the two of them identical long-term big-money deals. Now, it is important to note that they really didn’t play apart very often and when they did, it is certainly possible that Monahan was called upon to play in a far more defensive role.
If we take a bit of a closer look at their WOWY information, Monahan’s performance begins to make a little more sense. Here’s a look at their CF%, GF%, OZone% WOWY stats and it’s important to note that Gaudreau and Monahan played 1135:08 together this season, which amounts to roughly 73% of his total ice time for the season. Monahan played apart from Gaudreau for 168:19 mins this season or roughly 11% of his total ice time. So it’s not a lot, but still have look:
As you can see, when Monahan was apart, he did have a lower OZone%, which makes sense intuitively. However, what is a little more difficult to understand is the fact that, according to the info at Sporting Charts, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan finished the season two minutes apart in total TOI (1,552 for Monahan and 1,574 for Gaudreau) and yet, in the 228:04 that Gaudreau spent away from Monahan he scored 15 more points.
In terms of powerplay time, Gaudreau only spent roughly 20 extra minutes on the powerplay and only scored one more powerplay point. In fact, Monahan scored seven goals to Gaudreau’s six this season with the extra man. So, why is it that Gaudreau was able to produce so much without Monahan? That’s a tough question to answer, but an important one if you are Flames management.
WHAT WOULD THE MONEY BE?
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. How much are they both worth? The conventional wisdom is that if Monahan and Gaudreau are going to sign matching deals, it will likely be good news for Monahan financially. Johnny Gaudreau is coming off of a sophomore season where he scored at essentially a PPG rate the whole season, and led the team in scoring by a considerable margin.
Gaudreau has cracked the top 10 in scoring from all players drafted in 2011, despite playing a minimum of 51 less games than any one else in the top 10. Moreover, Gaudreau is absolutely electrifying to watch and was an all-star last season, the kind of player you put on billboards and use to sell the team for the next decade. So, what is that worth?
Vladimir Tarasenko scored five points fewer than Johnny in the final year of his entry level deal and scored himself an eight year, $60 million dollar contract and set the standard for what premium young talent can expect. The annual cap hit for Tarasenko’s deal is $7.5 million dollars and for a player like Tarasenko, I believe this is fair value. Where does Johnny fit into this? Does his ask start with $8.5? What do you think?
Sean Monahan isn’t going to be easy to bargain with either. No one drafted in 2013 has more points or goals than Monahan and he has scored over 20 goals in each of his first three seasons in the NHL. That’s hard to do, especially for a player not lauded for his goal scoring coming out of junior. He also plays a premium position and even scored 22 goals as a rookie, without Johnny at all.
However, Monahan hasn’t put up numbers like Tarasenko or Gaudreau and, as has been detailed a number of times on this site by smarter men and women than I, his possession stats are not exactly fantastic. So, if Gaudreau is asking for Tarasenko+ money, is Monahan worth that same amount simply due to his position and reliability?
Or perhaps you don’t believe that either of these players should get long term deals; maybe you think that, provided the player is amenable, a bridge deal is a better option for the Flames. This is a risky move if both players continue their production and the Flames’ cap situation could go from manageable (after next season that is) to full-blown Don Sweeney pretty quick.
So let me know what you think should happen in the comments!