Around The Rink | What’s The Deal? By @PuckSage
What’s The Deal?
As the off season lingers and looks more and more like it will last even longer than it should I’m beginning to wonder even more at the motivations of various teams. The Boston Bruins just inked Brad Marchand to a new four year deal. It was a good deal under the current CBA, team friendly, but oddly it was signed while he still had a year left on his deal, after a protracted negotiation that went into camp last fall. This hot on the heels of signing their first selection from June’s NHL Entry draft seems a touch odd, given all that has failed to happen this off season.
He’s hardly the only one with a head scratching deal this summer. By almost any measure Zach Parise’s deal is curious as forwards tend to hit their zenith offensively around 25 and then begin to decline. At 28, with a couple major injuries under his belt, Parise is more than a risk. He was signed to a contract that will end a few minutes after the heat death of the universe. Or something like that. This is of course a deal that is directly counter to expressed desires of the ownership collective who expressed a desire for five year limits on contracts.
The Dallas Stars have expressed a desire to get younger and build a core. With a roster studded by Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, the promising Richard Bachman, and Alex Goligoski, who can blame them? When Mike Ribiero and Steve Ott were exiled, you had to start thinking seriously about them having a plan. Of course adding in two forty plus forwards, one who spent most of last season nursing injuries, and the other a hockey hobo now on his eighth team, you just have to scratch your head.
Signing players, at least to reasonable deals in the early stages of this pivotal off season made sense. But if we aren’t at the eleventh hour yet, it’s certainly after ten o’clock. So what’s the motivation for the signings? Given the way the Owners masterfully played divide and conquer with the NHLPA at the last lockout, it could be a simple as preparing to guarantee salaries without a rollback if signed before the lockout becomes official. With all the other playing options open to players, owners may be maneuvering to have a leash on players who go overseas. Realistically speaking if an NHL non-entity like Brandon Bochenski can go to the KHL and lead his team in scoring, players who have shown up and performed at the highest level in the NHL playoffs should achieve something nearly indistinguishable from godhead in the KHL, SEL or any other league willing to open their doors and wallets to a locked out NHL star. For guys who fill that middle rank here, like say Jordan Staal, who also got a big deal, and had a year left the chance to go and be the star of a team or even a league might just be irresistible.
So what is it? Are the owners planning for the season? Is this some Machiavellian scheme to eviscerate the NHLPA? Are we simply seeing “business as usual” until the lockout becomes official, or less likely a CBA is signed? Maybe it really is just post lockout protectionism. On the other hand given how many of these billionaires are bad businessmen, it could just be their own particular brand of stylized chaos.
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@PuckSage knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men, but denies vehemently having put it there.