The 3 factors affecting a Kris Versteeg extension

I think most of us can agree the Calgary Flames would be well served to sign Kris Versteeg to a contract extension. With 21 points in 40 games, Versteeg has given the Flames great value on the one year, $950,000 contract he signed just before the start of the season. But while it seems simple enough to sign Versteeg to a new deal, there are a few important wrinkles to consider.

Performance

As mentioned, Versteeg has given Calgary great value on the deal he signed one day before the start of the season. It’s actually pretty amazing to think Versteeg was set to play in Europe six months ago and had to make an NHL team off a PTO, because he is clearly still an NHL caliber forward. Versteeg has been one of the team’s most productive players as illustrated by his scoring metrics.

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 4.48.26 PM

To see a player on a short term deal at under $1 million rank top five in all of the team’s offensive categories is notable and that’s exactly what Versteeg is doing. The 30-year-old has helped turn Calgary’s powerplay around and has gotten the job done just fine 5-on-5.

The only things that could be viewed as drawbacks are Versteeg’s age and possible durability concerns. Versteeg turns 31 in May and, for some forwards, that’s around when things can start to fall away. Additionally, Versteeg has missed time on two different occasions due to injury this season and he’s missed 10 or more games in three of his last six seasons.

Contract terms

Here’s maybe the most interesting part of this conversation, or at least the part that I think is most unknown. Because Versteeg’s situation is rather unusual, I’m honestly not sure what type of leverage Versteeg has in contract negotiations, either with the Flames or another team.

On the one hand, Versteeg’s overall point production as ranked by points per 60 puts him amongst the top 150 players in the league. Some logic would suggest he deserves a decent raise from the sweetheart contract he signed for this season, at least when talking about production alone.

The problem for Versteeg becomes the continuing trend around the NHL to shy away from anything but bargain basement deals for players over the age of 30. Versteeg will be 31 next season and I don’t think it’s a guarantee the Flames will be ready to step up with the type of deal he’d be looking for in free agency.

On the other hand, Versteeg seems like a pretty aware guy and was ready to go to Europe this past summer. As such, he might not be adverse to signing another good value, short term deal to guarantee his NHL future for another year. Furthermore, Versteeg has spoken openly about his desire to play close to his hometown of Lethbridge which is why Calgary and Edmonton were the two biggest blips on his radar this fall.

This one is a strange one to come to an opinion on because there are a lot of unknown variables. Personally, I think something in the ballpark of a a two-year deal at around $2.5 million per season makes sense for both sides. While I think that’s something the Flames would be into, I’m not sure if that’s something Versteeg’s camp would jump at or not.

Timing

Finally, the looming expansion draft adds an important wrinkle to seemingly any contract or trade discussion around the league. It certainly factors in significantly when talking about Versteeg’s future with Calgary because of their protection list situation. Earlier this season I wrote about the potential of protecting Micheal Ferland in the expansion draft and came up with the following list of likely protected players.

ChartExp

Assuming Calgary elects to protect seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goalie, all of a sudden signing Versteeg prior to the expansion draft becomes slightly less attractive. The Flames likely aren’t going to sign Versteeg only to leave him exposed come June, which would then leave a guy like Ferland exposed which isn’t necessarily desirable.

Earlier this week Kent answered a question in the mailbag about exposing Brouwer and I think the conversation is totally valid. However, much like the Overlord Emeritus, I really can’t see Calgary signing Brouwer to a big fat contract one summer and then exposing him in an expansion draft. I’ve been underwhelmed by Brouwer in his time with the Flames and I’d expose him if I were making the decisions, but I’m not sure the team would go down that same road.

The ideal scenario here would be to sign Versteeg after the expansion draft but before free agency kicks in come July 1st. To do that, the team would likely have to have an agreement in place and just get Versteeg to agree to wait until after the expansion draft is done to officially put pen to paper. It certainly isn’t out of the question but, much like the prior topic, it isn’t a guarantee, either.

Conclusion

I think it’s a good idea for the Flames to re-sign Versteeg to a reasonable deal. What does reasonable look like? Well, for me, somewhere in the two-year range and for less than $3 million per season registers in that category. Versteeg remains very productive, he is great on a powerplay, he’s smart and seems to play well with virtually anyone he’s put on a line with. For me, those things outweigh any potential cons like age or durability.

However, as we’ve illustrated, it’s not quite that simple thanks to the unknown variables. Would Versteeg agree to sign after the expansion draft? Would he be okay staying on a good value deal as opposed to potentially chasing bigger money elsewhere? Because we don’t know the answers to that question, the best I can put his chances of re-signing with the Flames at is somewhat likely.

  • Primo

    Versteeg is all but washed up and he recognizes that. Your suggested $2.5M per season is ridiculous for all the reasons you mention. This guy has made more money than a US bank in his career so signing him to a more reasonable contract at the identical term and dollars will not be a problem. His primary consideration is playing near his home and Calgary offers him that opportunity to finish his career here…..

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I mostly agree, but I do see Versteeg earning a small bump (maybe $1.5M x 2 years). He’s be a good addition and fit for the Flames.. Given that Las Vegas will be swallowing up 9 full time forwards from the pool of available NHLers, will but a bit of upward pressure on player aquitision costs, so that alone makes him more valuable. Lastly, he was willing to play in Europe, so playing near to home is definitely a nice to have not need to have for Versteeg.

      • Scary Gary

        Exactly two years $1.5/per close to home would be a boon for a guy who was ready to move to Europe; however, if you negotiate this team friendly drawer deal you can’t trade him at the deadline.

        If he doesn’t take something team friendly there are always veterans looking for work on the cheap: Parenteau, Vanek, Hudler, Vrbata, etc.

  • Pond Hockey

    The time has come to call up some ‘prospects’ to better assess what we have in the pipeline and see if we can start planning to jettison some dead weight on the 3rd and 4th lines. Versteeg at $2.5M – no way. Pretty good chance that he could be snagged by Vegas though. Our bottom lines are, shall we say, a bit underwhelming.

    • The GREAT WW

      If we protect Brouwer over Ferland and Ferland gets picked up by Vegas I’m throwing furniture…if BT does not expose Brouwer he should not get a new contract….

      WW

  • SydScout

    If Versteeg is on a 3/4th line along with Chaisson I’m good with that. But not at 3m per year. Half that. The good to great teams keep these guys around, and pay / play them appropriately. We’ve got the bones of a good top six, and Versteeg, Chiasson, Stajan, Ferland etc set up for success against similar quality or worse lines.

    @Styxx had a great line up in the Tkachuk article a few days ago:

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Tkachuk

    Bennett-Backlund-Frolik

    Versteeg-Jankowski-Brouwer

    Ferland-Stajan-Chiasson

    …Sheesh – Brouwer is overpaid…

    Plus, a little off-piste maybe (and I could be out to lunch on this which one of you smart buggers will pick up immediately), if he is injury prone you may get a free pass to bring up a prospect for a look if you shuffle your line up correctly.

    Say Versteeg is injured for 10 games a season, you could slot in one of your best AHL’ers under an Emergency Recall. Helps the player, helps the org and you dont need to worry about waivers.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Have you already forgotten that Brouwer’s contract includes a hometown discount? Tre was very clear about that when he talked about the signing. Sharks were going to pay north of $5M a year for Brouwer as they deemed him the piece they needed to get back to the cup and win it this time.

      • deantheraven

        Dunno where you heard that but it seems nuts to me.
        Fact are facts. Sharks are up against the cap as is. Four guys on that team are north of $4 mil. Two guys are north of $3 mil. All of them have significantly more value than Our Boy Troy.

        Brouwer hasn’t performed to even a $3 mil deal, despite ‘intangibles’. I say expose him. If he gets picked up, good riddance (doubtful, for there will be many less expensive, younger, better performers available around the league). If he doesn’t get taken he’ll have a burr under his saddle that will either lift his game or make him trade bait (that ol’ change of scenery dynamic).

  • BlueMoonNigel

    If the team continues its fall from playoff contention as the month moves along, Versteeg should be dealt to a contender by the deadline.

    Sign him as a FA but not for around $3M a pop. That’s an overpay.

  • freethe flames

    Does anyone remember the Mason Raymond story? Injury prone, game declining, goes to Toronto has a good season; overpaid, to long of term, buyout, no longer in the league. We have had good value from Versteeg on the powerplay; yes I agree but his 5 on 5 is not nearly as good. He is at the point in his career in today’s NHL where he should only be signed 1 year at a time and at a value contract no more than $1.75m; I am on record that the Flames should try and sell high on him over the next month.

    I agree with those who say we should expose Brouwer as he should understand that Hockey is a business and what he has brought to the table has fallen way short of expectations. How, he has managed to keep his letter is beyond me as I see no one ice leadership from him.

  • deantheraven

    I’m not clear on the expansion draft rules. Vegas can only take players from another team if the player is signed for next season, right?
    If that’s so, then the problem has an easy solution. Handshake with Versteeg to get a deal done after the Expansion draft. Sign him for less than 2 mil for 2 seasons.

  • jakethesnail

    The Las Vegas expansion draft puts a wrench is what teams can do or are willing to do regarding player personnel. I don’t want to see another expansion draft in the next few years!

    The 48 hour window for RFA/UFAs puts another perspective on retaining low cost but usefull veterans like Versteeg.

  • Kevin R

    A lot judgemental knee jerk reactionary opinions on here. Yeah Brouwer doesn’t have the results we had expected. When we acquired him, I had expected a RW capable of playing 3rd & 2nd lines, playing with an edge & heavy game we so badly needed. He broke his hand & had hand surgery. Are the experts trying to say that has not had an impact on his game? Even Gaudreau hasn’t been what we are used to seeing from previous years since his injury but it isn’t as noticeable because of his skating ability.

    We can still protect Ferland & Brouwer at the same time. Not sure what the issues are here. The whole team has pretty well sucked this year, stars will have to align for us to have any meaningful playoff run this year. We got Brouwer without expending any assets except for maybe a 1.0 mill $$ overpayment of cap space & 1 year longer than what Tre would have liked to have given him on term. Shall we look at other UFA’s other GM’s signed for way more $$$ & term & compare their production to Brouwer? Flames have to protect Brouwer, it’s what a professional NHL team would do. I am willing to see what this team does with these pieces next year when we won’t have the anchors to blame eating up valuable cap space.

    Versteeg would be a decent depth forward, I would have no problem seeing him resigned to a 2 year 1.5 mill per year deal. Any more term or $$$ would be ludicrous.

  • supra steve

    I agree with most responses here Pat, $5mil over 2 years is an overpay. I think one year deals are the future for guys like Versteeg, if he chooses to stay in the NHL, no more than $1.5mil/one year deal.

  • Yeah, you guys are right, my ballpark for him is probably a little high. His unique situation makes it a little more difficult to nail down a price range, which to all the good points made here, probably makes it easier for the Flames to get him under $2 million.