When the Flames signed Dillon Dube to a three-year contract at $2.3 million per last week, it seemed on the surface like a fair deal for both sides. Despite having yet to play a full “normal” NHL season, there’s plenty to suggest Dube is trending towards being a core piece for Calgary. That said, he’s not there yet, which presents risk for the team on a three-year term. All things considered, both sides did a nice job finding middle ground.
For the team
You could make the argument a $2.3 million cap hit for solely the coming season is slightly steep for Dube. He posted 11 goals and 22 points in 51 games last year, which prorates to around 17 and 35 over an 82-game campaign. Based on comparable contracts signed this summer, a two-year deal for Dube would have come in at around $2.0 million annually.
So, maybe we’re talking about a few hundred thousand dollars over market value in year one. But, that’s the cost of business to get a player to sign a three-year bridge instead of a two. The payoff for the Flames is if Dube’s progression continues. If that’s the case, the team is likely looking at a team-friendly number in years two and three.
Positively, this past season provided plenty to suggest more positive development is in the cards. While Dube was shuffled around the lineup at times and used in a variety of roles, he was one of Calgary’s most productive five-on-five players when on the ice. Metrics courtesy Natural Stat Trick.
Averaging 12:19 of even strength ice time, Dube was a top five player in both goals and points per-60, which is impressive. Among regulars, only Andrew Mangiapane, Josh Leivo, and Elias Lindholm had a higher goals rate than Dube. Mangiapane, Lindholm, Johnny Gaudreau, and Matthew Tkachuk were the four players ahead of his points-per-60 rate.
With a little more ice time and a steadier role, more top five metrics from Dube going forward should translate to increased production from a “counting” perspective. I’m a big fan of the player, but I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest Dube could hit 40-50 points multiple times over the next three years. If so, $2.3 million will indeed be team friendly.
For the player
So what’s the benefit for Dube? For me, it’s two-fold. First off, he’s getting nearly $7 million of guaranteed money over the next three seasons. It’s a decent commitment from the Flames and enough for Dube to lock in for three prime production years. A two-year deal would have been the fastest track to a bigger number, but there’s more security in three, and Calgary made that security lucrative.
In saying that, it’s still a short enough deal for Dube to bet on himself and come out the other side with significantly more leverage. For sake of argument, let’s suggest Dube posts 37, 44, and 48 points in his next three seasons. Those numbers open up a brand new salary range (~$5 million AAV) for a player who will have arbitration rights and would be a couple years from UFA eligibility.
So, there’s a decent chance Dube’s cap number will be on the team friendly side in the final year or two of this current deal. But, knowing Dube’s current trajectory, he’ll be in a spot to chase a much bigger number at the expiration, which just happens to coincide with Calgary’s cap situation opening right up. That seems like a win-win for both sides.