Monday, July 26, 2010

Negotiating On Price:

Opening Parry

The last Canadiens game was played more than 2 months ago now. As the sun set on the Canadiens season, there were questions everywhere, except it seemed in goal. In goal, Jaroslav Halak had been the undisputed star for the Canadiens, if not the league in the playoffs to that point, and Carey Price warmed the bench.

But the offseason has cast a new light on matters. Halak was traded, of course. But even after that lingering negotiations have led to looming questions. For a brief period on July 1, Robert Mayer was the highest ranked goalie on the Montreal payroll. He was to be bumped to NHL back-up in the depth chart by the signing of Alex Auld and later to a more sensible place as Gauthier retained Desjardins and Sanford. As Price’s contract talks drag on, the depth chart of today still has Mayer in Hamilton, with Auld and probably Desjardins in Montreal.

That situation is pure fantasy, though, as Carey Price must be as near a certainty to sign on as there ever was. But Auld, Desjardins, Sanford, Mayer. Some have said it’s not leverage for the goalie and his agent, fans who ponder their upcoming cable package might disagree.

Anyway, we put aside the possibility that Price will not be signed instead looking to the terms of the contract he will eventually sign. For fun, I thought of the negotiation as a mock arbitration setting (probably not that far from the truth) with each side presenting their arguments and counter-arguments.

For mock purposes, let’s assume that Carey Price’s team is indeed asking for the $3 million that HabsWorld comes up with in its uncited "report" (1 to 3 years). The Habs we’ll assume by the hold up are not into that, we’ll say they started at $1.7 million (2 to 4 years).

Carey Price camp opening arguments

1. Starting goalie money

The average goalie salary (cap hit) in the NHL is $2.51 million
The average among starters is $3.75 million
Removing entry level for starters gives $4.1 million

You want Carey to be a starting goalie in one of the biggest fanbases with some of the biggest revenue in the NHL. He shouldn’t be far below average.

2. Comparables

Carey Price (3 seasons)
Season: 2.77, 0.912
Career: 2.73, 0.912

Jonas Hiller (3 seasons) ¬ $4.5 million
Season: 2.73, 0.918

Jaroslav Halak (2 full seasons) ¬ $3.75 million
Career: 2.62, 0.919

Kari Lehtonen ¬ $3.55 million
Season: 2.81, 0.911
Career: 2.87, 0.912

Pekka Rinne (2 full seasons) ¬ $3.4 million
Season: 2.53, 0.911

Their average salaries going into the next contracts are $3.8 million, so the $3 million we ask for is very reasonable considering Carey’s closest peers.

3. Pedigree

Drafted 5th overall
CHL goaltender of the year
WJC winning goalie and tournament MVP
Calder Cup winning goalie and tournament MVP
NHL All-Rookie team
NHL All-Star Game

4. Save percentage

Save percentage is the only number that can be trusted among goalie statistics, as it is the only number that belongs to the goaltending performance alone. 0.912 this season and for his career are excellent at his age. It was a single tenth of a percent behind Roberto Luongo.

5. Alternatives

Having traded Halak, without Carey you would look to start the season with Alex Auld in goal and Cedrick Desjardins at back up. Carey offers a massive upgrade to that tandem, replacing the completely NHL-naïve Desjardins from the roster and providing a better start option than Auld.

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