The Anaheim Ducks announced on Friday that they have signed Ryan Getzlaf to an eight-year contract extension, which means there will be one less superstar hitting the free agent market this summer.
According to TSN's Pierre LeBrun, Getzlaf's eight-year deal, which is the max term allowed under the new collective bargaining agreement, is worth $8.25 million per season.
Pierre LeBrun @Real_ESPNLeBrun
8 years, $66 M for Getzlaf - $8.25 AAV2013-3-8 17:54:14
How will Getzlaf's new contract impact his teammate Corey Perry's career in Anaheim and other forwards who are eligible for free agency in the near future? Let's examine the possibilities.
Corey Perry's Future After Getzlaf's Extension
With their captain signed for the foreseeable future, the next question is if the Ducks will re-sign superstar winger and 2011 Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry to a similar contract, or trade him before the April 3 deadline in case he wants to test free agency in July.
In 2008, Perry and Getzlaf signed matching contracts, but right now, there is no report of Perry being close to signing an extension.
The 27-year-old forward talked about Getzlaf's contract on Friday (via Helene Elliott of The Los Angeles Times):
Helene Elliott @helenenothelen
Perry on getzlaf extension: 'It's great for him." Asked if it will influence his own decision: "I'm not going to sit here and say yes or no'2013-3-8 18:53:06
The Ducks currently have a $44.8 million payroll (15 players) for next season with Getzlaf's new deal included (per Capgeek), which gives them about $20 million to fill out the rest of the roster.
Since Anaheim hasn't been a team that spends up to the cap ceiling in recent seasons, it's unlikely that the team would sign Perry to a contract worth over $8 million, and then have to spend close to the cap to fill out the roster.
Anaheim also has to sign free agents such as Teemu Selanne (UFA), Saku Koivu (UFA) and Kyle Palmieri (RFA) this summer, in addition to Perry.
With that said, a trade is the Ducks' best option because if Perry thinks he can get at least $8.25 million on the open market and not just from Anaheim, it's hard to imagine him not testing free agency. James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail shared his thoughts about Perry's value on the market via Twitter on Friday:
James Mirtle @mirtle
Some around league expect Perry to get more than $9-million AAV on open market. Was always going to be harder for Ducks to re-sign.2013-3-8 18:38:42
If Perry is going to receive $9 million on the open market, trading him should be a no-brainer decision for the Ducks. Very few players are worth that much money, and Perry is definitely not one of them.
There would likely be a ton of teams interested in him this summer as a top line winger who can score 40-plus goals and play like an elite power forward. There were several teams interested in Zach Parise last summer as the top forward on the market, and we could easily see a similar situation with Perry.
Anaheim will not want to lose Perry for nothing as a free agent like the Devils did with Parise, so a trade is certainly a possibility if the two sides are unable to work out an extension over the next few weeks. Perry would likely help the Ducks acquire at least a first round pick and a top prospect if he was traded.
Since Perry's current deal does not include a no-trade or no-movement clause, the Ducks could start a bidding war for him as the trade deadline approaches.
How Will Getzlaf's Contract Impact Future Free Agent Forwards
One of the goals during the most recent NHL lockout for the owners was to eliminate huge, long-term contracts. The owners succeeded in getting the NHLPA to agree to term limits, but that clearly hasn't stopped them from overpaying players.
Getzlaf is a No. 1 center and a legitimate superstar, but he's not worth $8.25 million per season. He's not one of the 10 best players in the league and doesn't deserve to earn one of the five highest average salaries.
When the owners eliminated front-loaded, back-diving contracts during the lockout, they put themselves in a position where players of Getzlaf's caliber will earn $8.25 million per season. That's not good business.
When other top centers learn how much Getzlaf signed for, they will be jumping with joy.
For example, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015, while Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux is able to be a restricted free agent after next season.
They are both superstar centers and two of the best young players in the game, but if Getzlaf is getting $8.25 million, you would have to think that the negotiations between Giroux, Toews and their respective teams will begin at that amount.
Getzlaf is a good player, but he's in the tier below Toews, Giroux, Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Here are some other top-six centers who will likely benefit from Getzlaf's monster contract.
|Player||Team||Age||Current Cap Hit||Date of UFA/RFA Eligibility|
|Logan Couture||SJS||23||$2.875 million||2014 RFA|
|Patrice Bergeron||BOS||27||$5 million||2014 UFA|
|Evgeni Malkin||PIT||26||$8.7 million||2014 UFA|
|Joe Thornton||SJS||33||$7 million||2014 UFA|
|Matt Duchene||COL||22||$3.5 million||2014 RFA|
|Sam Gagner||EDM||23||$3.2 million||2013 RFA|
Among the six players listed above, Malkin is the only one who will be expected to make as much or more than Getzlaf's $8.25 million annual salary, but the other players will certainly benefit too, especially Bergeron and Couture because they are arguably as valuable to their teams as Getzlaf is to Anaheim.
Would stars like Toews and Giroux hurt their team's salary cap situation by signing contracts similar to Getzlaf's? Probably not, because it's hard to imagine a player like Toews leaving Chicago at any point in his career, but Getzlaf's extension should give players of Toews' caliber more leverage in contract negotiations over the next few years.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter. He was a credentialed reporter at the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and 2012 NHL playoffs. All salary information courtesy of Capgeek.