Posted: Jun 19, 2009, 1:08 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: █♣█ Vancouver, British Columbia
US$63-million for each Sedin over 12 years?
$63 million for each Sedin a mind-boggling number that makes perfect sense
It shows team’s best forwards getting creative to solve impasse with team
By Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun columnist
June 18, 2009 4:01 PM
Are Daniel and Henrik Sedin really asking for 12-year contracts worth $63 million US?
Let’s hope so because, at the very least, it indicates the Canucks’ best forwards are getting creative to try and solve the contractual impasse that threatens to doom them in Vancouver.
The $63-million demand — as first reported Thursday in Sweden — makes sense mathematically. Neither player agent J.P. Barry nor Canuck general manager Mike Gillis will discuss figures publicly, but the deal’s 12-year average of $5.25 million is about what Vancouver is believed to have had on the negotiating table for months.
Backed by a tonne of irrefutable statistical data placing the Sedins among the National Hockey League’s highest and most consistent scorers since the 2004-05 lockout, Barry figures his clients are worth closer to $7 million annually.
The Canucks moved in recent months on contract length, abandoning demands for short-term deals and entering into talks on five-year agreements. But the team still hasn’t crossed the $6-million threshold in annual salary for the twins, which is why it’s likely Barry countered with the 12-year proposal that grants the Canucks the average they seek, lessening the impact on the team’s salary cap.
“We’ve provided some alternatives that address their issues,” Barry told The Vancouver Sun. “We are exchanging ideas. But we haven’t made the kind of progress we need to get a deal done.”
Lifetime contracts are relatively new to the NHL. Spawned by the salary cup, deals of 10 or 12 years allow teams to lower the annual pay average — the salary-cap “hit,” which is the paramount number.
In January, the Detroit Red Wings signed Henrik Zetterberg, who at 28 is the same age as the Sedins and has comparable offensive numbers since the lockout, to a 12-year, $73-million contract with an average cap hit of $6.1 million.
Zetterberg will actually make an average of $7.5 million for the next nine years. His salary in Year 10 drops to $3.35 million, and the final two years are at $1 million. Nobody expects Zetterberg to hang around for that kind of pocket change at age 40, but including them in the contract allowed Detroit general manager Ken Holland to massage the salary cap.
Another Red Wing, Johan Franzen, signed in April an 11-year extension that pays $36 million over the next seven years before petering out. The cap hit is just $3.96 million.
Similarly, Vince Lecavalier has an 11-year deal that averages $7.7 million, although the Tampa Bay Lightning centre will bank $10 million for each of the next seven years.
No one is saying what the breakdown is in the Sedins’ proposal. Even with a $5.25-million average hit, the Canucks won’t want to pay $7 or $8 million for the next seven or eight years.
“I think the philosophical stuff has been interesting,” Gillis said this week. “But we have to try to come to a reasonable conclusion. We have X-amount of dollars to spend [under a salary cap], and we’re prepared to spend all of it. It becomes an allocation. We have to be careful how we allocate the money.”
Gillis and Barry have disparate interpretations of the financial landscape. Amid the global economic crisis, Gillis envisions a day of reckoning coming for NHL teams and any that commits huge salaries over extended terms will be in peril.
Barry acknowledges financial challenges facing teams, but notes there is no evidence of wage rollback for elite players nor a slackening in demand for them.
Indeed, since the U.S. banking meltdown last fall, the Carolina Hurricanes gave Eric Staal a seven-year contract worth $8.25 million annually, Los Angeles King Anze Kopitar negotiated $6.8-million a season for seven years, and the Colorado Avalanche awarded a five-year deal worth $6.6 million annually to Paul Stastny. And none of them had unrestricted free agency as an option. The Sedins can leave the Canucks on July 1.
As Barry said in March: “The UFA marketplace, especially for elite offensive talent, has always been governed much more by specific supply-and-demand factors among the 30 competing franchises than it is by the general prognosis of North American GDP.”
At this point, with almost no compromise from either side since contract talks began last summer, there seems little chance the Sedins and Canucks will end their standoff.
The second and third players chosen in the 1999 draft, Daniel and Henrik have spent their entire eight-season careers in Vancouver.
Somehow, Gillis remains hopeful there will be a ninth season for them.
“I think they’re very good players who are very good people and fit with the type of image and type of team we want to have,” he said. “So I’m hopeful because I believe they want to stay here and we want to keep them, and usually that’s common enough ground to figure it out somehow.”
Still, Gillis said the Canucks have a Plan B.
Just in case.