Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The not-quite-ten types of good contracts (and how to sign them)

Last week, we looked at ten types of bad NHL contracts, along with some tips on how general managers could avoid them.

This generated a fair amount of discussion and feedback, much of which fell into one of two main groups.

The first — and by far the most common — of those two groups was something along the lines of this: “Hey dummy, you listed a player on my favourite team as a bad contract but he’s not because he’s really good and my team’s GM is super smart and never makes any mistakes!”

Fair enough. That was probably to be expected.

But the second most common feedback was: What about the other side of the coin? Where's the post on all the good contracts?

That's a decent idea. Who says we're only allowed to focus on the negative around here?

So today, we're going to flip the script and focus on the good contracts.

But we'll need one caveat. Unlike the list of bad contracts, we're not going to do ten different types. (Yes, the blogger's handbook says we should aim for some symmetry between the two posts, but that's not going to be possible here.)

To be honest, I had to trim the bad contracts list down to get it to ten, which is why categories like "The overly aggressive new owner who orders his GM to do something dumb" and "The GM who doesn't care about the future because he knows he's getting fired soon" didn't make the cut.

That won't be the case with the today's list, because the reality is GMs still sign more bad deals than good ones.

So we won't get to ten, but we'll do the best we can. And we'll start with the very best contracts of all.

(Specific cap numbers in this post are via CapFriendly.)


The contract: This is easily the most obvious category. Entry-level deals almost always provide good value, and at times can be almost ridiculously cost-effective.

That's how the CBA is designed – players have to pay some dues on their first contract before they can start down the road to making the big money.

In a league where young players (especially forwards) often have some of their most productive years early on, that adds up to the potential for team reaping enormous value on these contracts.

Sure, occasionally a youngster with a bonus-laden deal will trigger those bonuses for a cap-strapped team, rolling the cap hit into the following season and causing headaches. But even in those cases, it's other bad contracts on the books that are causing the cap squeeze — not the young star who's still making far less than he could on the open market.

Recent examples: Connor McDavid, Patrik Laine, Auston Matthews… honestly, we could list just about every player drafted over the last few years in this section.

How to make it happen: Stockpile picks, draft well, and then develop those prospects into players who can contribute in the big leagues. In other words, exactly what every team in the NHL already says it wants to do.

We did say this was the obvious category.

But if you want a degree of difficulty, the real trick here is to find a way to compete for a Stanley Cup while at least a few of your best players are still on their ELCs. That's what teams like the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs are hoping they can manage, but it's rare to see a team pull it off. See the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks for an example of what can happen if you do.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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