NHL players have a habit of basing their salaries on that of their counterparts. There is always conversation of what so and so makes over how many years, what their bonuses look like, and what perks they got in their deal. The problem is that most of these contracts are long term contracts on young unproven players who may have seen a spike in their stock value over one or two seasons. Most of these contracts work out to be mutually beneficial but not always. The other problem with these contracts for younger players is that they buy out any remaining RFA years and most of the time some UFA years.
There are currently two big defensive names on the RFA list that are seeking major contracts. Michael Del Zotto of the New York Rangers is one of those names. Currently Del Zotto is seeking to stay with the Rangers, but cap issues may not allow for him to get as large of a contract as he would like. There has been some minor talk of the Rangers moving Del Zotto, but with his promise and skill, the Rangers will want to keep him on an already impressive roster. Del Zotto may also be more than willing to take a lower salary over fewer years because of the potential of that team winning a Stanley Cup. Money is one thing, but to hoist the cup is the ultimate goal of every player in the league, no matter what anyone says.
Right now, looking at recent NHL deals, the benchmark for Del Zotto is most likely the Buffalo Sabres‘ Tyler Myers. Myers signed a deal worth $5.5 million over seven years with a signing bonus of $10 million. The Rangers can probably offer more in a signing bonus than salary, so I would look for that to happen.
On the other side of things is P.K. Subban. Subban is currently on a team that is rebuilding. Their future is unclear and the ability of the team is unknown. We could all be surprised and see a huge year from Montreal if Carey Price can help to carry the team, but no one knows if that will be possible. If Subban decides to stay with his Montreal Canadiens, there is no telling how long it would take before that team would be competing for the Stanley Cup. I would say that Subban will be looking for a larger salary than Del Zotto and a similar signing bonus.
Now you are probably asking yourself, what does any of this have to do with the St. Louis Blues? Well, a lot actually. The St. Louis Blues are going to have their hands full next offseason with Ian Cole, Kris Russell, Matt D’Agostini, Patrik Berglund, Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Alex Pietrangelo all as restricted free agents (RFA). The two main names on this list that will be of particular interest to St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong are Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo as both will be watching what happens with Subban and Del Zotto to set their prices for next season.
There is one major difference though, the St. Louis Blues are not a major team market. For the Blues to spend to the salary cap is a risk, and a big one at that. For a franchise that is losing money each season, they need to spend carefully. Depending on play, you have to think that almost every player in that group will be back in a Blue Note next season, but that could change at any point.
The St. Louis Blues seem to set their limit on contracts with David Backes‘ extension of 5 years at $4.5 million. They then signed T.J. Oshie for a bit less, but also for five years. You would have to think that Doug Armstrong will be thinking 5 year contracts for both Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo, but at what cost?
Kevin Shattenkirk will be the less expensive of the two prized defensemen as he has less experience under his belt and is still growing into his full potential. I would think that the St. Louis Blues would be smart and willing to sign him to a 5 year deal in the $3-3.5 million range. Surely he will warrant that kind of money and it would be a great investment in the future of the club.
Alex Pietrangelo though will be looking for top dollar and may set a new bar for St. Louis Blues’ contracts. The organization loves what Pietrangelo does and he has quickly filled the hole in Blues’ fans memory of Al MacInnis. He is the new leader of this club on the blue line and fans would be incredibly upset if he were not locked up long term. The guy is looking like he could be a Norris candidate each year. I think that St. Louis will be smart and come close to the kind of deal both Del Zotto and Subban will get, but they won’t be able to offer a signing bonus. Much in the case of Del Zotto, I see Pietrangelo being willing to stay with the Blues as the chance to win a cup is now.
That is all for now Blues fans, as always, LET’S GO BLUES!