Logan Couture is the future of San Jose Sharks hockey, and the time is quickly approaching that he be paid like it.
Couture has two years left on a deal he signed this time last offseason that will earn him $2.75 million in 2012-13 and $3 million in 2013-14.
He signed that contract after he scored 32 goals and 24 assists on his way to a second-place finish for the Calder Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year.
The following season (2011-12), Couture was tied for the team lead with Joe Pavelski with 31 goals and was second on the team in points with 65.
Doing all that at just 23 years old equals a big pay day for Couture, and we should see the Sharks act quickly within the next year.
Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Kevin Kurz feels there is a direct correlation between Couture's future contract and the recent contract of 2011 Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Skinner signed a six-year extension with the Hurricanes earlier this month that will keep him in Carolina through the 2018-19 NHL season and pay him an annual salary of $6 million in the final five years of the deal.
By comparison, San Jose's star center Joe Thornton will make $7 million this season and $6 million in 2013-2014.
"Logan Couture’s eyes must have lit up when he saw the deal that Skinner, who edged out Couture for the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year after the 2010-11 season, inked with the Hurricanes."Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
"When Couture and the Sharks do get into discussions, regardless of where a potential rolled-back salary cap is set, Couture should be in for a huge payday provided he continues to improve on his year-over-year numbers."
Kurz also pointed out that Couture and Skinner have nearly the same numbers, with Skinner putting up 63 points in 2010-11 and 44 points in just 64 games last season.
Couture had 56 points in 2010-11 and 65 points last season.
The Sharks are obviously invested in Couture for the long run.
The Blue Jackets were rumored to want Couture in a package for free-agent Rick Nash this offseason, and San Jose GM Doug Wilson never budged, despite the friendship Nash has with Sharks center Joe Thornton.
However, if the Sharks want Couture to stay with the team for the distant future, they will pay him when the time comes.
Seeing Skinner's recent contract and Thornton's probable new one, Couture will likely be offered a contract in the ballpark of $7 million a season for six or seven years.
It is just speculation at this point, but Couture is the future of hockey in San Jose and will be paid like one in the not so distant future.
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