Ice hockey’s most dangerous contract, a brief history of a shiny new game deal

It’s been a great season so far. The flame And the leopards It made one of the biggest blockbuster movies of the last decade, a really shocking late-night exchange that witnessed Matthew Tkachuk Head to Florida to get the included package Jonathan Huberdeau And the Mackenzie and jealous.

The Black Hawks Their tanks are openly while running Senators Loading, highlighting both states With the deal that was sent Alex DeBrinkat to Ottawa. The golden knights dumped Max Priority On the Carolinas for nothing, while the wild I had to move Kevin Viala to me kings. We may not even finish the trade rumors circulating about guys like Patrick KingAnd the Jonathan ToewsAnd the Pierre Luc DuboisAnd the GT Miller And the David Pasternak.

All of these movements were amazing in their own way, or they will be. But this is not the most important thing they have in common.

We need to talk about a shiny new game scenario.

This is dangerous. It would likely be bad news for fans in Ottawa, Calgary or the Carolinas, as well as any team that might tempt guys like Miller or Kane. It also makes it look more likely that we’re about to see at least some teams make crushing mistakes they’ll regret for years to come.

Let’s explain what’s going on, how it happened in the past, and what we can learn from that.


What is a shiny new game?

negotiating a contract in NHL It is all about leverage. Sometimes the team owns it, like when a young player’s entry contract expires and his rights remain under the team’s control for years to come. Sometimes the player has it, like when an established star hits a free agency, or when the lovable franchisee is in an expired deal and needs an extension before he walks away with nothing. In these cases, teams often overpay, as they may feel they have little choice.

as a big fan of Discussing bad contractsI don’t say this lightly: there may be no set of circumstances more dangerous for a team or group more beneficial to the player and his agent, than the dreaded Shiny New Toy. It’s a class of bad contracts that I first suggested in an article I wrote six years ago. I don’t know if you’ve read this or not, but I’m sure the NHL GMs didn’t, because if anything, the list of errors is getting worse.

The scenario is triggered when a team acquires a star player in a big deal, usually out of great fanfare, and then has to deal with the extension immediately. The player they just acquired either needs a new contract right away or has a deal about to expire, making them eligible for an extension.

This puts the team in trouble. Sure, it’s great to add a new player, but now they have to keep it. Their fans are excited. GM reads the media coverage about the amazing job he’s done. They may even sell more season tickets. But all that positivity vanishes if they let this new star fly away for nothing in a year or so.

The team needs the player to sign a long-term deal. And the player and his agent know that perfectly well. That’s why they have all the leverage.

Put yourself in GM’s shoes. You just held a press conference to show off your new acquisition, and bragged to the world how amazing it is. You may have given up valuable assets to get it. Are you really going to sit at the bargaining table and act like you’re not sold?

You can not. You have to pay. Often times, this leads to disaster.

What are some examples of shiny new game disasters?

Well, until you understand what the shiny new game looks like. But how often does it really end up being as bad as I just described it?

Let’s start with a recent example. Last summer, the Black Hawk was traded Seth Jones On July 23, giving up a bunch of high shots and Adam Bockvist. Jones was heading into the final year of his deal, with UFA status looming, so the Hawks immediately signed him for an eight-year, $76 million extension. This contract Eyebrows raised at that timeAnd, a year later, it appears to be one of the worst leagues, with Dom placing it in second place His list of bad deals.

We don’t have to scroll down this list to find more shiny new games. The Cyber trade for Jeff Skinner During the 2018 offseason, knowing he had one year left before the UFA put in. They eventually paid to keep him, giving him eight years and $72 million, which Dom ranks as the third worst contract in the league right now.

We can find a larger example at the bottom of the list a little bit Eric Carlson. The Sharks It traded for him in 2018, heading into the final year of his contract, ultimately giving him a whopping eight years and $92 million to stay. Now carrying the biggest blow for a defensive man in NHL history for another five years, he’s been hurt and has only been effective occasionally ever since.

Let’s go on. what about Notice trading Jacob Troup In June of 2019, then handing him over seven years and $56 million a month later? The Sharks dropped Evander Kane’s first-round pick in 2018, then gave him seven years and $49 million a few months later. Jonathan Drouin Six years and $33 million from Canadian On the same day, they surrendered Mikhail Sergechev for him.

Justin Falk Seven years and $45.5 million from blues On the day he purchased Hurricanes in September 2019, although a full year left on his deal. Finally, swell Ryan McDonagh contract that Lightning We just had to dump on Predators just months after they got it from Rangers in exchange for a bunch of headshots and vistas, proving that even clever teams can fall victim.

This is not a recent phenomenon. We can look back at other questionable decades of years ago, like giving hurricanes Jordan Stahl A 10-year contract worth $60 million in 2012, just days after it traded on the draft floor. Senators traded with Bobby Ryan in the wake of Daniel Alfredson’s loss to red wingsthen had to give him seven years and $50 million over the life of the deal a year later.

The same Senators sent Jason Spiza to Dallas in 2014, then they watched stars Giving him four years and $30 million on a deal that immediately felt like it was overpaid. Cory Schneider’s disastrous seven-year, $42 million extension came a year after the release of demons traded him In front of Muscat fans.

We can go on, even back to the pre-max days, where arguably the worst trading and contract trade we’ve ever seen was Classic shiny new game scenario. But I think you get the point. When a team makes a big-name deal that needs an extension, they’re in very dangerous territory.

Can a shiny new game contract succeed?

If you’re a Flames fan who got this far in this post, there’s a good chance you’re terrified right now. This is the part where I have to give you some optimism, with a list of shiny new game contracts that worked really well.

The problem is that I’m not entirely sure there are any.

Sure, none of the contracts commonly mentioned among the top deals in the league fall into the Shiny New Toy category, although those contracts are usually signed by elite young players just prior to the breakout, and these guys are rarely traded. Besides, we don’t need to find a great contract as a counterexample – just a decent contract will do the trick.

Are there candidates? You can make a case for Mark Stone, who earned eight years and $76 million from Vegas a few days after he was kicked out of Ottawa. That deal seemed reasonable at the time for a man who was considered among the league’s elite wingers, but injuries have underestimated Stone in recent years. The jury is still out, but Stone will still end up doing well.

It’s too early to talk about men like Kevin Fiala in Los Angeles (about a deal that most of us seemed to think was okay) or Humpus Lindholm In Boston (which could be more affluent). If we go back further, we can find a pair of 2015 team-friendly contracts like Doji Hamilton In the Calgary and Ryan O’Reilly deal with the Sabers, which ultimately worked out better with the Blues, but still fit our criteria.

But perhaps the best counterexample for Flames fans is one that would be bittersweet: Matthew Tkachuk’s eight-year, $76 million extension with Panthers. Technically, he signed that deal with Calgary as part of the league’s first signing and trading, but I think we can let that be in the spirit of the thing. Tkachuk hasn’t played any game under this contract yet, but it is Already getting rave reviews.

If the Panthers can give up as much as they did with Tkachuk and still sign a reasonable contract, then perhaps there is hope in other similar situations. Or maybe Tkachuk is just the exception that proves the rule, as a team circumvented the Shiny New Toy curse by striking the contract before the deal was done. Look, I wanted to leave some optimism for the Flames fans, and that’s the best I can do.


Mark Stone. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

So what did we learn?

Wouldn’t the phrase “don’t trade stars who need accessories” an oversimplification? I think it might be. Considering the amount of time I spend complaining GMs don’t make dealsI don’t really want to exclude a whole broad category of them.

So let’s go with this: while the stellar player’s contract expiring might be the only reason why he’s available to trade for in the first place, teams have to be very careful when it comes to making these deals.

This is a cautionary tale for Flames, with both Huberdeau and Weegar. It’s worth remembering for senators, with DeBrincat. It could be a problem for Hurricanes and Pacioretty, although this deal could be more of a designer rental. It’s a red flag for anyone who might consider pulling the trigger on Miller, Dubois, Kane, or other stars becoming available in a similar situation, even if the deals themselves seem to offer solid value.

Buyer awareness. Because the record here is very bad.

(Top photo of Seth Jones: Christopher Hanwinkel/USA Today)

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