- Peter Forsberg:
When healthy, he filled up the stat sheet. But he was constantly hurt. What if the Avs had given him a major deal after his initial 4 year contract ran out? Yes, he was with the club for 5 more seasons after than, but what if they were on the hook for 3-5 more after that? Would they want to keep paying top dollar for a guy on the wrong side of 30 and dealing with foot injuries that limit him so much?
- Bryan Berard: He was a Rookie of the Year in 1997 for the New York Islanders, and looked even better the next season. A fast, puck moving defenseman that scores a few goals is a hot commodity. With a year or two left on his rookie deal, it would have been prime time to lock him up long term. Instead, his production feel, and he would eventually suffer a freak eye injury. Even though he made it back into the league, he just didn’t become anything special like many would have predicted after his first two seasons.
- Mikael Renberg: The least talented on the Legion of Doom, and yet he still put up 57 points in 47 games as a rookie. Over the next two seasons, he was still nearly a point per game player. That kind of production, and his chemistry with John LeClair and Eric Lindros should have netted him a nice deal. Nope, the Flyers rightly dumped him, and he would go on to be marginal NHL player.
- Rick DiPietro: After one full season as a starter, the Islanders rewarded a 23 win season with a 15 year contract. His first two seasons into the contract seemed to be pretty good. But then came the injuries, and he ahs only played in 17 games over the last three seasons. And now New York is stuck, for 10 more years, with a goalie that his chronic knee injuries.
- Ilya Kovalchuk: A high-scoring wing who doesn’t need much help from a center hit the free agent market after 8 very productive seasons in Atlanta. Everyone knew he’d command top dollar, but nobody thought he would get a 15 year deal like the one New Jersey gave him. Sure, whoever he signed with would have to overpay a little bit, but this contract is just insane. It runs out when Kovy is in his 40’s. And in his first full season as a Devil, his production went way down. It’s still early, and he may live up to the deal at first. But the early return does not look very good, and his cap hit of $6.66 will be a huge burden for most of the deal.
If anyone was deserving a monster deal over the past few seasons, it was Sidney Crosby. Yet, he only signed a 5 year deal after winning a ton of awards in his first 3 seasons and helping the Penguins get to the Finals in 2008. Now, he’s suffering from concussion issues, and nobody knows when he’ll come back to play and if he’ll be as good anymore. Given his unknown future, the Pittsburgh brass must be a bit happy that they are not invested in him for another decade.
Everyone knows that you cannot predict the future. You can’t predict injuries. You simply have to look at historical data and assume most players will follow certain trends. The Flyers must have realized that while both Carter and Richards would likely remain productive for the next 3-5 seasons, they might become an expensive burden after that. Both put up pretty good numbers, but a slight decline would make both of them unworthy of their deals. If they had signed for 3-6 season, maybe things would have been different. But they didn’t, and so the Flyers felt now was the right time to move them before they became untradeable.
The fact that each of them will have a No Trade Clause kicking in next July made this past offseason the opportune time to move them. Both are still held in high regard across the league. The Flyers would look a lot more desperate in trying to unload them next year before the NTC’s kick in, and wouldn’t have the leverage to get back what they got. We also wouldn’t have the cap space to sign Bryzgalov. Los Angeles is a team that feels they are on the brink, so now is a great time for them to mortgage their future in hope of winning right now. Columbus is still building, so they too needed a guy that can provide offense right now, regardless of what he does downthe road.
I’m not saying I agree with the moves the Flyers made. But I understand their point of view. If I were in charge, I simply would not have given out the lengthy contracts that they did. I’d rather overpay a bit for a few seasons, than stretch out a deal for a long period of time. But I’m not in charge. And we now have a very different team. And in a few more days, the games start to count, and we’ll see what we have. What we don’t have is is this:
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