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Regardless of our assessment, there is hardly any argument that Dubas signed players for high value contracts. Plus, his penchant for doing so has been blamed for the consistent difficulty the Maple Leafs have had in limbo with the upper limits of the CBA’s salary cap.
Two things seem to be true for Dubas. First, he has a vision for what he wants his team to look like and he is spending a lot of money to turn that vision into reality. Second, he always found creative ways to keep his team under the salary cap structure, but he had to engage in organizational contortions to do so.
Jonas Siegel’s Assessment of Maple Leafs Contract Values
In an article last week, Jonas Siegel from Athletic looked at the “value” of the Maple Leafs contracts. I have to believe that Siegel’s quest to examine the value of the organization’s current contracts had its genesis with a quote from CEO Dubas made in a Mailbag article written by Luke Fox of Sportsnet exactly two weeks ago today. hui. In it, a Maple Leafs fan asked Fox to rank the best and worst contracts on the Maple Leafs roster. (from “Assessing the Value of Every Maple Leafs Contract for Next Season”, Jonas Siegel, Athletic, 24/11/20).
At the time Dubas was quoted, “We don’t really have contracts that we look at and say, ‘We have to get rid of this player. This player doesn’t at all, “Some might disagree – and that’s good, and it’s fair – but we’re pretty happy with our squad. ”
By the way, at the time, Fox classified the contracts of William Nylander, Morgan Rielly and Ilya Mikheyev as being of good value for the team.
Maple Leafs Forwards Contract Value Assessment
Siegel, I believe, asked the same question. Here, while I won’t share all of the contracts Siegel assessed, I want to review and comment on what he said about the Maple Leafs forwards. Of all the groups, the garage where the attackers’ contracts are parked has the brightest cars – that is, the organization’s forwards are signed for the most expensive contracts.
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Among forwards, Siegel ranked Mitch Marner’s contract in the middle – neither good value nor bad value. Obviously, for his second contract with the team, Marner’s contract was pretty big and it can be argued that he was overpaid. There seems to be a tradition in the NHL that young players should move up the salary scale rather than up that scale. To justify his Marner ranking, Siegel suggested that Marner is a rising star “who sets up elite numbers and performs in all situations.” “
Here’s everything Maple Leafs fans and hockey writers have come to expect from Marner. Last season he was seen as having a “low season”. However, the numbers show he has scored 16 goals and 51 assists for 67 points in 59 games. That kind of one-off production would be seen as good value for money for most young player contracts, and we’re looking for it to have a rebound season this year? What would this rebound season look like?
The problem is, Marner scores those points for $ 10.893 million and not for $ 6.963 million like William Nylander. Which is, after all, Siegel’s argument.
Rating forwards from other Maple Leafs
Siegel rated Auston Matthews as a good value player who “slightly” exceeded his contract value. The note about Matthews was that 2020-21 “could be the year Matthews gets into the Hart Trophy conversation.
Siegel names the issue with the Matthews deal, and that’s something Brian Burke noted in August 2019 when he said he believed the contract was too short and allowed Matthews to leave ( for Arizona) upon termination of his contract.
Siegel rated Zach Hyman’s contract as high value and even suggested that Hyman could have the Maple Leafs’ best-value deal on the team at the end of next season. He has been called a “first unit penalty killer and 20-goal threat”.
Like me, Siegel considers Hyman to be one of the key members of the Maple Leafs roster. In fact, today Athletic, Siegel and James Mirtle discuss together the possibility that the Maple Leafs could keep Hyman, Frederik Andersen and Morgan Rielly after this season. (from “Mirtle and Siegel: Can the Leafs Find a Way to Keep Hyman, Andersen and Rielly ?, Jonas Siegel and James Mirtle, Athletic, 28/11/20).
What about the three low-cost veterans the team signed on to NHL minimum contracts – Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza and (a little more than the league minimum) Wayne Simmonds? While none of these contracts was rated as low value, only Thornton’s contract was rated above average. Siegel assumes Thornton would be close to being the 51-point player again in 2018-19.
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That said, I’m not sure what Seigel expects from a player who earns the NHL minimum wage. Less than 10% of all NHL players win $ 700,000 and there are few top scoring players on this list or even familiar names (Spezza is one of the few). One thing that isn’t said about these veterans is that they bring experience, leadership, stability and mentorship to a younger team. I do not believe that such things can be evaluated in dollars and cents.
What about John Tavares’ contract?
Finally, there is the John Tavares contract. He’s the only striker whose contract Siegel hasn’t rated in the range as having good to average value. His contract was called “not quite good”. There’s probably no argument that at 30, Tavares isn’t quite the player he was. Still, he was more than a points player per game with the Maple Leafs (148 points in 145 games played for the team).
He had a career season in 2018-19 (with 88 points in 82 games) and in mid-October last season he broke his finger which forced him out of the roster for several. matches. My assessment is that he did well with the Maple Leafs.
That said, just like Marner, the Tavares contract would serve the team better if it was a few million short of $ 11 million. Priced at a dollar-value performance level, Tavares was probably doomed to let people down with his contract because he’s never been “so good” with the New York Islanders. Only twice in his Islanders career (2014-15 and 2017-18) has he averaged one point per game.
So to suggest that Tavares’s numbers are lower because he’s slowing down just isn’t accurate. Sure, he’s probably slowing down, but he’s never been a volume scorer like – say – Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers.
That’s right, he’s 30 now. It is true that he is slowing down. But he was never a great player; he was “only” really good. Still, I don’t disagree with Siegel that Tavares – from a dollar and cents perspective – has a probably below-average contract.
What are the end results of Siegel’s exercise?
The Fox article on Sportsnet two weeks ago generated a number of posts about the value of the Maple Leafs’ contracts. The quest was not to assess whether a player was productive, but whether that player was productive at a rate commensurate with the dollar value of his contract.
In the end, Siegel rated the contracts of the Maple Leafs forwards as, with the exception of Tavares, of average or good value. This confirms Dubas’s belief that his organization did not sign any terrible contracts. There are no Loui Eriksson (Vancouver Canucks) or Milan Lucic (Calgary Flames) contracts which are simply losers.
I agree that among the Maple Leafs forwards, Hyman has perhaps the best contract by team value. However, I think Siegel has undervalued the intangibles that veteran Maple Leafs with minimum contracts bring to the team.
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If only Dubas could cut Marner and Tavares’ contracts by a few million dollars, it would accomplish two things. First, it would free up funds to pay other players. Second, it would take fans away from these players.
In the second category, I am thinking specifically of Marner. I think the fans are now less grateful for the young winger after signing his huge contract. The fans are human; they like someone who scores at a point per game pace and earns $ 5 million more than someone who scores a point per game and earns $ 10 million.